View Full Version : PA: Final Aerial Deer Survey Results Help Better Gauge Deer Populations

Bob S
06-28-2006, 03:59 AM
ARTICLE (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060622/phth038a.html?.v=1)

Press Release Source: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Final Aerial Deer Survey Results Help Better Gauge Deer Populations

Thursday June 22, 1:09 pm ET

Filmed Data Shows Whitetail Numbers Vary Widely in 460,000+ Acres of Woodlands

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has completed an aerial analysis of white- tailed deer populations that shows deer densities on surveyed lands are highly variable.

The study began in mid-February and used an infrared-camera-equipped plane that flew over 464,100 acres of, primarily, state forest and game lands targeted by DCNR and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

"The average densities for lands we surveyed ranged from 8- to 18-deer- per-square-mile. However, within our survey blocks, we found some areas where there were no deer, and others where densities reached 55-, 70- and even 126- deer-per-square-mile," DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis said. "This year's aerial surveys largely confirm what we found last year, and will serve as a valuable tool as we continue to better understand deer densities and distribution to help guide efforts to ensure forest regeneration and healthy habitat.

"Quantifying deer densities is important to gauging our progress toward balancing deer populations with available habitat, but a healthy forest is our main indicator for success," said DiBerardinis. "Once our forest managers see habitat recovery and no longer need deer fences to consistently regenerate the forest following timber harvests or natural disturbances, we will know we're beginning to reach our goals."

To maximize areas surveyed and minimize costs, the Game Commission had requested that flights cover 50-percent sampling of its selected game lands. Game lands were selected to include varying sizes, topography and proximity to populated areas and regions.

"It is important to remember that these aerial counts represent those deer sighted on a particular parcel, on a given day and time," said Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe. "The figures represent the minimum number of deer that were present, which then can be used to calculate a minimum density for the area.

"While we can't use aerial counts to make deer management decisions across entire wildlife management units, we do believe that these counts can help in demonstrating deer dispersion at the time of the flights and provide another source of information to help us understand deer and their activities," Roe added.

Roe noted that the Game Commission relies on more than just the number of deer when determining the direction of its deer management program. "Our deer management program is guided by three management goals: manage for a healthy deer herd; ensure healthy habitat for all wildlife; and reduce human-deer conflicts," Roe said.

Sections of five state forest districts and six state game lands were surveyed in aerial flights continuing into early spring. Results are being compared to on-the-ground measures of deer density and habitat conditions to provide a clearer picture of deer impact on forest ecosystems. DCNR conducted extensive analyses of habitat conditions across 2.1 million acres of state forestland in February, March and April of this year.

"We will use the aerial data in conjunction with detailed vegetation analysis to help guide our management decisions and adjust our efforts to steer hunters to certain state forest areas in the 2006-07 hunting season," DiBerardinis said.

Targeted acreage for aerial analysis included the Game Commission's doe and fawn mortality study areas, Tuscarora State Forest, and portions of state forests enrolled in the Game Commission's Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP), which allows landowners to target specific areas for additional antlerless deer harvest, enabling hunters to kill more than one deer in designated areas when properly licensed.

The survey's scope also was broadened to include, for the first time, private woodlands in McKean County, where sportsmen had met with Governor Edward G. Rendell to request the study include sections of the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative. The effort involved hunters, land managers and owners intent on improving deer, wildlife habitat and forest management.

DCNR's contractor also flew an area of approximately 35,000 acres located in northwest Delaware and southeast Chester counties - that includes Ridley Creek State Park - which has been, historically, impacted by high deer densities. Conservation organizations are working with landowners to protect the remaining natural habitats in this highly developed area and are looking at various approaches to address the overabundant deer problem. The data will help identify deer densities across the area and help develop a model for future efforts to measure and control deer in this type of environment.

The 2006 flights over state forestland showed the highest average deer density surveyed was 18-deer-per-square-mile in Susquehannock State Forest's DMAP No. 28, near Austin, Potter County. The lowest, 8, was recorded in Tioga State Forest's DMAP No. 44, near Leonard Harrison State Park, Tioga County.

The second highest average was Moshannon State Forest's DMAP No. 305, near Clearfield, Clearfield County, with 16-deer-per-square-mile. Other results:

Averages of 14, Susquehannock State Forest, DMAP No. 29, near Coudersport, Potter County; 12, Elk State Forest, DMAP No. 54, near Dents Run, Elk County; 11, Moshannon State Forest, DMAP No. 18, near S.B. Elliot State Park, Clearfield County; 11, Moshannon State Forest DMAP No. 312, near Parker Dam State Park, Clearfield County; 10, Tioga State Forest, DMAP No. 45, near Blossburg, Tioga County; 10, Susquehannock State Forest, DMAP No. 27, near Cherry Springs State Park, Potter County; and 8, Tioga State Forest, DMAP No. 44, near Wellsboro, Tioga County.

Others included: 9, Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative North, in northern McKean County; 10, Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative South, in southern McKean County; and 37-deer-per-square-mile for the Ridley Creek area in Delaware and Chester counties, with the highest local density reaching 98.

"In reviewing these figures it's imperative to know these aerial surveys detect the minimum, over-wintering densities on one specific night in February, March or April, when the flights were flown," said Merlin Benner, DCNR wildlife biologist. "Depending on a given area's habitat condition, deer herd health, sex ratio and reproductive success, densities could be 10 to 50 percent higher during fall hunting seasons."

For the second consecutive year, the survey contract was awarded to Vision Air Research Inc., an Idaho-based independent wildlife research firm. A crew and specially equipped plane operated out of University Park Airport, Centre County, and Skyhaven Airport, McKean County.

Details on the 2006 aerial study, including state forest tracts surveyed and photos, as well as other information on deer, can be found at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select State Forests).

For more information, visit DCNR's Web site at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us.

CONTACT: Christina Novak (DCNR), +1-717-772-9101, or Jerry Feaser (PGC), +1-717-705-6541.

06-28-2006, 12:07 PM
The mapped results showing deer per area surveyed is available through the link in Bobs post. It is www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/deer/deersurvey.aspx if you want to see it directly. It is worth a look.

06-28-2006, 03:42 PM

Thanks for the link. I want to visit that Kinzua project sometime this year.

I think Jeff Krause is speaking at the PA QDMA Jamboree...early Sept I think. It is not on the QDMA home page schedule yet but they had brochures at the convention. Anyway, he is the biologist at Raystown for the Army Corps, and is going to talk more about fly over surveys. Should be good, if you can make it. Time of year makes a big difference, as the article states. Jeff has a bunch of data for different sections of land over time, and can share information on hunting pressure, habitat, timber mgmt., etc. within each compartment.

06-29-2006, 11:20 PM
Why would'nt the Game Commission wait until this information was available "before" they issued the state WMU ANTLERLESS DEER alocations ?? Nothing like putting the cart before the horse....as usual !!

06-30-2006, 01:37 AM
The most interesting thing is the different densities of the deer. Some sections have 30 deer/sq mile and some have none. And these numbers are spring numbers that could easily be 50 to 100 percent more in the fall. The areas without deer need the forest harvasted to generate some food.