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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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.
Brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were stocked at two sizes, small (approximately 254 mm TL) and large (approximately 356 mm TL), in Apalachia Reservoir, North Carolina, to determine the best size and species to create a trophy put-grow-and-take fish- ery. Trout were tagged and stocked in December 2012–2015 and collected with annual boat electrofishing and gill-net surveys. Small trout of both spe- cies grew faster in length than large trout; however, brown trout of both size classes reached larger sizes (≥500 mm TL). Large brown trout were highly piscivorous throughout the study, whereas small trout of both species fed primarily on macroinvertebrates within the first four months in the reservoir and converted to a more piscivorous diet by 16 months when they had reached a mean TL of ≥400 mm. Large rainbow consumed mainly macroinver- tebrates until becoming more piscivorous after 16 months in the reservoir.
Florida freshwater habitats provide many essential functions including flood control and nutrient sequestration. While serving as habitat for many fish and wildlife species, wetlands also contribute significantly to the outdoor recreation industry. Despite these services, aquatic habitats contin- ue to face threats, such as urban encroachment, water withdrawals, water-level stabilization, sedimentation, non-native species introduction, cultural eutrophication, and climate change. With Florida’s increasing human population, encroachment and development continues into natural areas, stress- ing aquatic habitats and the fish and wildlife that depend on healthy wetlands. This paper summarizes a GIS process for identifying publicly accessible freshwater resources and presents a multi-criteria decision analysis tool for prioritizing those resources to guide management considerations.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) budgeted approximately $US250,000 for air operations in fiscal year 2017, 74% of which was for aerial observation by manned aircraft. Small unmanned aircraft (sUAS) have lower operating costs than manned aircraft, and thus significant cost savings could be experienced were sUAS to replace manned aircraft. However, it is first necessary to evaluate that data from sUAS are comparable to data from manned aircraft. Therefore, angler pressure counts were conducted simultaneously using both manned aircraft and sUAS within the four management zones of Beaver Dam Tailwater, Arkansas. Counts of boats, boat anglers, boat occupants, and non-boat anglers were compared between methods using a Wilcoxon paired signed rank test. More boat anglers were recorded using the manned aircraft than the sUAS (v = 55, P < 0.01); observ- ers in the manned aircraft appeared to have recorded some non-fishing boat occupants as anglers.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) conducted 56 h of unmanned aircraft operations between February 2017 and April 2018. Operations involved video and still photography for both scientific and public outreach purposes, mapping, and live surveillance. Some operations were conducted under the small unmanned aircraft rule (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations §107) established by the Federal Aviation Administra- tion (FAA), while some were conducted under the terms of a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA. The initial training program consisted of a 32-h in-person class. After gaining operational experience, subsequent training expanded to a 112-h class with greater emphasis on hands-on flight experience. We also provide brief reports of four accidents involving small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS), most of which occurred during training. Inexperienced pilots should be limited to low-risk projects until they gain operational experience.
Stocking of pen-raised northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) into natural habitat is a common management strategy for this species, as is supplemental feeding of the cultivated seed milo (Sorghum bicolor) to wild bobwhites. However, milo may be deficient in minerals and/or other nutri- ents, leading to negative effects for bobwhites eating only milo. Additionally, pen-raised bobwhites with no experience eating seeds may be reluctant to eat native seeds they may find when released. We studied the effects of a milo-only diet on pen-raised bobwhites during the non-breeding season, and we tested the effects of mineral supplementation on bobwhites fed a milo diet. We also studied use and selection of native seeds by pen-raised bobwhites, and we tested the hypothesis that exposure to a cultivated seed (milo) diet improves the willingness of pen-raised bobwhites to eat native seeds.
The State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practice of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Tennessee is targeted to help
restore native habitats to benefit the northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and other declining early successional wildlife. A survey of a subset of
participating landowners was conducted to assess landowner perceptions of and experiences with the practice and perceived wildlife response. The sur-
vey response rate was 58% (73 of 126 surveys mailed). All respondents were owners of the CRP SAFE tracts at the time of the survey, and most (91%)
managed the SAFE tracts themselves. SAFE contracts had been active for an average of seven years and ranged from 2 to 213 ha in size, with a mean
of 21.0±30.4 ha. Most of the respondents indicated they had received about the right amount of information prior to signing the SAFE contract (over
Management of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) commonly focuses on creating cover and food for bobwhite throughout the year. Numerous studies have addressed these management practices and their impacts on bobwhite, but few have assessed the quantity of resources they pro- duce or the associated management cost per unit of production. My study assesses three common bobwhite habitat management practices (prescribed fire, roller chopping, and food plots) on the Cecil M. Webb-Babcock Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County, Florida. I estimated production of the most common natural bobwhite forage (slough grass [Scleria spp.]) and the most common planted species (sesbania [Sesbania spp.]) in 80 wild- life exclosures located in areas that had been managed with prescribed fire only, in those that had been managed with both prescribed fire and roller chopping, and in food plots.