Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

The Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (ISSN 2330-5142) presents papers that cover all aspects of the management and conservation of inland, estuarine, and marine fisheries and wildlife. It aims to provide a forum where fisheries and wildlife managers can find innovative solutions to the problems facing our natural resources in the 21st century. The Journal welcomes manuscripts that cover scientific studies, case studies, and review articles on a wide range of topics of interest and use to fish and wildlife managers, with an emphasis on the southeastern United States.

 

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This project sought to classify 108 Oklahoma impoundments based on water quality as well as determine if water-quality parameters in these impoundments influenced the relative weight (Wr) of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) and black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Agglomerative hierarchical clustering and subsequent discriminant analysis of seven water-quality parameters resulted in the grouping of impoundments into three classes. Chlorophyll-a, salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen were the most important explanatory variables (83%) in impoundment classification. Class-1 impoundments (primarily located in east central and southeastern Oklahoma) had low salinity and pH values. Class-2 impoundments (spread statewide with a high concentration in the central part of the state) had mid-range pH and mid to low-range salinity values. Class-3 impoundments exhibited higher salinity and pH values.

State fisheries agencies are increasingly conducting habitat enhancement projects due to reservoir aging and associated habitat degradation, and evaluations of the effectiveness of habitat introductions are crucial to ensure desired results. Artificial habitat structures built from plastics may last for decades, yet their effectiveness has been variable?possibly due to construction materials,shape, and placement. During 2014 and 2016, we compared fish use of artificial structures built from two plastic types (PVC and plastic mesh) deployed in clustered or linear configurations in Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas, and we also compared methods (scuba versus fixed video camera) for evaluating fish use of the structures. We observed 14 fish species and 11,078 total fish during the study. Six centrarchids (bluegill [Lepomis macrochirus], spotted bass [Micropterus punctulatus], black crappie [Pomoxis nigromaculatus], longear sunfish [L. megalotis], largemouth bass [M.

Trail cameras were deployed from 1 October 2015 through 30 September 2016 to measure angling effort at three lakes on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Sandhills Game Lands. Images were quantified via computer software and analyses were conducted to assess total angling effort as well as temporal (e.g., AM vs. PM, weekday vs. weekend, and seasonal effort), angling method (boat vs. bank), and demographic (male vs. female, youth vs. adult) calculations. Indian Camp Lake was the most used site by anglers throughout the study (1640.3 ± 32.2 angler-h) followed by Crappie Lake (675.0 ± 14.9 angler-h) and Kinney Cameron Lake (482.3±11.1 angler-h). Mean angler effort was highest in the spring at Kinney Cameron Lake and Crappie Lake but was equally high at Indian Camp Lake in the spring and summer. At all three lakes, anglers expended more effort on average in the afternoons and weekend days.

Impacts of feral hogs (Sus scrofa) on native plant and animal communities have increased as feral hogs have expanded in geographic range. Wildlife managers use a host of tactics to manage population growth of feral hogs, including recreational hunting with dogs. However, hunting with dogs can cause disturbance and behavioral changes to non-target species. We monitored 161 eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) over 147 days during 2014-2018 in South Carolina to evaluate turkey movement behaviors and range sizes before, during, and after spring feral hog-dog hunts. The average daily distance traveled per bird in the two-week period preceding hunting was 1940 m (SD = 899; range 158-10,048 m). Average dai- ly distances traveled decreased by 0.3% on days during hunts but increased 15.6% during the two-week period following hunts. Daily distance traveled decreased by 9% on hunted days compared to non-hunted days.

Sustainability of eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, hereafter turkey) populations following translocation is dependent on reproductive success. Extensive efforts to restore turkeys to east Texas using translocation have yielded mixed results, leading to low-density, fragmented populations. Dynamics of a translocated turkey population are dependent on the outcome of nesting activity and nest success which can be influenced by vegetative characteristics selected by females when nesting. Because translocated turkeys transition from natal to new habitats, understanding patterns of nesting activity and vegetative characteristics selected by nesting females are important to continued restoration of turkey populations. We translocated 78 female and 23 male turkeys from Iowa, Missouri, and West Virginia to southern Angelina National Forest near Zavalla, Texas, during 2016?2017.

Historically, Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) in south central Texas have been at lower densities than in other por-tions of the state. Within the Oak-Prairie Wildlife District of Texas, Rio Grande wild turkey regulatory restrictions are different for counties in the east- ern and western portions of the region. Due to perceived increases in turkey density in the eastern portion of the ecoregion, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) considered increasing the bag limit in the Rio Grande wild turkey spring-only 1-bird zone counties to increase hunting oppor-tunities. However, if regulatory changes are to be considered in the absence of estimates of abundance and harvest rate, then estimates of demograph- ic parameters will provide the basis for regulatory decision-making.

The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura; hereafter dove) is among the most iconic symbols for hunting in the southeastern United States. Con-servation and management of this species is a priority for many state wildlife management agencies. Annual banding efforts are one of the main meth-ods used to measure survival and recovery rates, which aid in harvest management recommendations. We examined a number of dove captures using five different bait types over a two-year period in southwestern Louisiana and performed a banding cost analysis. We found milo to be the most efficient bait for banding new doves and total captures (newly banded doves and all recaptures combined), followed by browntop millet. Similarly, milo was least expensive bait per volume, most economical per capture, and yielded the most captures, with a cost of US$1.09 for each new band deployed and $0.25 per capture.

Mottled ducks are typically geographically separated into two sub-species: peninsular Florida (Anas fulvigula fulvigula) and the western Gulf Coastal (WGC) (A. f. maculosa). Between 1975 and 1983, >1,200 mottled ducks were introduced to coastal South Carolina primarily from the WGC range. A late summer banding program was initiated in 2008 within the Santee Delta and the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers Basin in South Carolina to estimate mottled duck survival and harvest probability. We acquired 3,594 banding and 525 recovery records of mottled ducks banded between 2008-2018. We used the dead recovery model with Brownie parametrization in Program MARK to estimate annual survival (S) and recovery probabilities (f) among combinations of age, sex, year, and band material (aluminum or stainless steel). Annual survival was greatest for adult males (0.60 ± 0.03 [SE]), followed by adult females (0.57 ± 0.04), juvenile females (0.44 ± 0.13), and juvenile males (0.32 ± 0.07).

Species richness, abundance, and genetic variability often decrease in bird populations when their habitats are subjected to anthropogenic activity. Regular and early monitoring of genetic diversity can give researchers and wildlife managers insight into the genetic health of populations so that action can be taken before inbreeding, loss of disease resistance, and population declines occur. We measured genetic diversity in populations of avian species that are increasingly exposed to anthropogenic changes. We analyzed samples from 89 individual birds from three locations in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Samples were collected from a total of seven species, four migratory [myrtle warbler (Setophaga coronata), American robin (Turdus migratorius), American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), and field sparrow (Spizella pusilla)] and three non-migratory [northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla), and white-breasted nuthatch (S. carolinensis)].

Environmental and anthropogenic stimuli can impact a variety of species' behavioral ecology. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) re- spond both spatially and temporally to various types of disturbance; however, our understanding of how disturbance impacts deer behavior is typically regulated to studies where white-tailed deer are the targeted species. We used GPS data collected from female white-tailed deer (n=10) to evaluate space use in response to small game hunting activities based on whether an individual was within the hunted area (actively disturbed) or outside (passively disturbed). We found that deer movements per 20-minute period did not differ between actively (59 m, SD=26.21) and passively (57 m, SD = 52.82) disturbed individuals. We also found no difference in home range (99% utilization distributions) or core range (50% utilization distribu- tions) size between actively and passively disturbed individuals.

Hunting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with dogs (herein, dog-deer hunting) has been steeped in tradition and controversy. Today in the United States, dog-deer hunting for white-tailed deer only occurs in nine states of the Southeast. We reviewed hunting regulations and primary literature, interviewed state-agency biologists, and simulated deer movements on national forests to investigate the current status of dog-deer hunting and develop recommendations for best practices to manage methods associated with the tradition. We recommend: 1) developing plans for consistent communication among agencies and stakeholders, 2) allowing dog-deer hunting where the practice is accepted culturally, 3) developing and enforcing permit systems to ensure hunter accountability, and 4) encouraging or requiring tracking and correction collars on dogs to reduce trespass.

Wild pig (Sus scrofa) populations have exploded across much of the southeastern United States. In order to combat increasing wild pig num- bers in an effort to reduce both ecological and economic damage caused by wild pigs, toxicant baits are being investigated as a possible method to reduce wild pig numbers at the local scale. In fall 2017, we tested the HogStopper? feeder to ascertain if this feeder design would deliver bait to wild pigs while preventing non-target species from accessing bait. We examined visitation rates at feeders for wild pigs and non-target species using both digital and video cameras. We had a three-week acclimation period (feeder doors remained open allowing free access to bait) followed by a three-week activation period (feeders were closed). Wild pigs visited eight of 10 feeders but fed from only one of these feeders during the activation period.

Te Central Georgia Bear Population (CGBP) is of special conservation concern due to its relatively small population size and isolation from other bear populations in the southeastern United States. Plans to widen Georgia State Route (SR) 96, which bisects the CGBP, have potential to negatively impact the population. Highway underpasses are being planned to mitigate these impacts. During 2012-2015, we captured and ftted 63 American black bears (Ursus americanus) with global-positioning-system collars and used remote, infrared cameras to document bear crossings along SR 96. We evaluated landscape characteristics associated with 212 bear crossings (210 documented via global-positioning-system collars, two with cameras) using a resource selection function approach and generalized linear mixed-models. We noted that bears were more likely to cross SR 96 where the highway bisected upland habitats.

Recruitment and retention of future conservationists are key issues for many natural resources agencies and organizations. Engaging chil-

We conducted a survey to evaluate 2003-2008 sales of private rural lands in Mississippi that were purchased for wildlife-related recreational
uses. Land parcels purchased (n=800; totaling 102,611 ha) were predominately forested (45%), followed by agricultural lands (26%), early successional habitats and recently planted pine forests (25%), and other lands (>3%). Hunting (99%) and motorized vehicle use (65%) were common uses reported on properties. Wildlife-related recreation accounted for an estimated 34% (US$1,566/ha) of overall value of rural lands sold. Cover types such as forests, and amenities, such as lodging and roads, increased potential recreational use and prices paid for rural properties. We speculate that demand and prices
paid for managed, high-quality properties that support wildlife populations for recreational use will increase with time. To better estimate value of rural

Each year the number of recreational visitors to southeastern national forests increases which brings new challenges for wildlife managers related to visitor activity and their potential effects of visitors on natural resources. This increasing visitation and recreation may affect species inhab-iting streams if these habitats are modified by visitors. North Carolina includes some of the last stable populations of a fully aquatic salamander, the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis). Few studies have assessed instream recreation (e.g., fishing, tubing, swimming) and

Aeration can circulate waters by disrupting thermal density differences associated with stratification, allowing homogenization of tempera- ture, oxygen, and other physicochemical characteristics within the water body. Use of lake and pond destratification as a management tool has been increasing in recent years, yet data are limited regarding its effects on fish communities. This case study examines the response of a largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) population to destratification in a 2.4-ha pond over nearly a decade. Biomass (35.8–42.8 kg ha–1) and density (51–93 fish ha–1) of stock-sized (≥200 mm TL) largemouth bass were consistently low prior to installation of the system; however, biomass tripled (129.8 kg ha–1) and density quadrupled (334 fish ha–1) 3.5 years after system initiation and remained high for the duration of the study.

We described sociodemographics and expenditures of black bass (Micropterus spp.) anglers participating in eight different tournament types on Lake Guntersville, Alabama, in 2013. We estimated 9035 anglers fished in 259 tournaments. Most anglers were middle- to older-age Caucasian males with an annual household income of over US$75,000, and who had participated in tournaments for over 15 years. Travel distance, expenditures, non-Caucasian participants, residence location, number of times fishing on Lake Guntersville, entry fees, and club membership all differed among tournament types. Anglers spent $4.5 million (average of about $500 per tournament per angler) that generated $208,000 in state and local tax revenue over a one-year period. However, expenditures varied over an order of magnitude among different tournament types.

The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is an 8231-ha oligohaline, tidal estuary that supports a popular largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) fishery. This system is productive, with an abundant bass population and above-average recruitment to age-1. But recruitment of the 2004 year-class was poor post-Hurricane Ivan, prompting angler concerns about the population. We considered improvements in the fishery were most likely achieved by stock- ing advanced-size fingerlings. Larger, older fish reared on live food were expected to provide a competitive advantage over native fish and exhibit higher survival than stocking smaller fingerlings. As this is an expensive venture, we tested this proposal in two tidal watersheds, Byrnes Lake and Threemile Creek, and a freshwater control, Monroe County Lake. During 2010–2014, a total of 16,380 advanced-size (97–354 mm TL) largemouth bass were tagged and stocked at approximately 10 months old.

Public fishing areas (PFAs) in Georgia are intensively managed freshwater impoundments that provide a variety of fishing opportunities to an- glers. Management efforts and fishing regulations at these PFAs depend on understanding basic aspects of recreational fishing pressure, catch, and har- vest. Accordingly, we conducted a roving creel survey during January–December 2013 at Marben PFA in middle Georgia to quantify sport fishing total effort, catch, harvest, and fish catch by species, number, and weight in 14 lakes. Almost all of the anglers interviewed (84% of the 1159 parties) targeted a preferred species; of these anglers, 34.7% targeted a second species, and 5.7% targeted a third species. Sunfish (Lepomis spp.) ranked highest among pri- mary, secondary, and tertiary targeted species, whereas channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) was the highest ranked quaternary targeted species.

Pond enhancements such as adding pelleted feed or stocking threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense) are sometimes used in the management of pond fisheries, but their relative impacts on growth and reproduction at multiple levels of the food web are not often fully evaluated. We used stable isotope analysis to indicate the contribution of pelleted feed to bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) reproduction and growth, and ultimately to largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) growth in the presence and absence of threadfin shad via two different approaches: a pond experiment and sampling of established ponds. Bluegill growth and reproductive metrics increased with increased rates of pelleted feed provided. Bluegill nitrogen signature decreased with pelleted feed in the small pond experiment, suggesting feeding at a lower trophic level with increased feed. Largemouth bass nitrogen signature results showed similar trends to that of bluegill, although not statistically significant.

Population-level studies often require age estimation of fish, but populations in small rivers and streams are generally smaller than those in large rivers or reservoirs. Therefore, non-lethal aging methods are generally recommended to minimize the potentially negative effects of sampling on population size. Accordingly, our main goal was to compare otoliths and scales as structures for estimating the age of redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auri- tus) and green sunfish (L. cyanellus) in an urban watershed. Reader agreement was greater for otoliths (88%–89%) than for scales (73%–79%), and pre- cision (mean CV) in age estimates was better for otoliths (3.7%–4.0%) than scales (6.1%–9.4%) for both species. Readers were significantly more confi- dent in their otolith-derived age estimates than scale-derived age estimates for both species. For redbreast sunfish and green sunfish, age estimation bias between readers was apparent for scales, but not for otoliths.

Telemetry-based study of alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) movement in the lower Trinity River, Texas, indicated that fish primarily re- mained within discrete home ranges less than 60 river kilometers (rkm), supporting the potential for local-scale management. However, the temporal scale of inference was limited (22 months), which may inadequately represent fish movements and home range size at the lifetime (i.e., ≥50 years) scale. Therefore, we used otolith microchemistry to examine the long-term movements of alligator gar (n = 59; total length range 1152 to 2420 mm, age range 4 to 60 years) between the lower Trinity River and Trinity-Galveston Bay system. Strontium:calcium (Sr:Ca) concentrations were measured along laser-ablated transects from the otolith core (i.e., time at hatch) to the edge (i.e., time at capture) for fish collected throughout the system, document- ing movements between the river (freshwater) and bay (saltwater).

This study evaluates the production and economic feasibility of a fixed-floor, in-pond raceway system (IPRS) to supply processor and niche live catfish markets while also highlighting production issues that arose by targeting these two markets. A west Alabama catfish producer grew hybrid catfish (♀ Ictalurus punctatus x ♂ Ictalurus furcatus) to market size in two production cycles (2012–2013 and 2013–2015). Management and harvest of IPRS-raised catfish changed from production cycle 1 to production cycle 2 due to higher market prices received from niche-live fish market buyers. The high density of fish in the IPRS and the small size of the raceway cells made it easier to frequently harvest small quantities of catfish for niche markets. Small quantities of catfish cannot be harvested efficiently from the large ponds traditionally used in the U.S. farm-raised catfish industry.

Stream-dwelling salmonid populations may be affected by both density-dependent and density-independent processes, but the relative im- portance of each may vary both spatially and temporally. We quantified population fluctuations of two unexploited rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus my- kiss) populations in western North Carolina over a 10-year period and examined the effects of spring discharge and adult abundance on recruitment. Both rainbow trout populations exhibited high degrees of temporal variability in density during the study. High spring flows that occurred during the incubation and emergence periods of rainbow trout were associated with densities of age-0 and age-1 trout in both streams. Age-0 densities were also associated with adult densities in one stream but with no evidence of a density dependent relationship. These results suggested that fluctuations in rain- bow trout density in these two streams were determined primarily by a density-independent factor.