Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 1991


Estimation of population size is important for most research in population biology and in the management of game species. Using a stochastic, catch-effort, competing risks model (Dupont 1983), we estimated the population size of the Savannah River Site white-tailed deer (Odocotleus virginianus) herd for 1965-86. Population size varied markedly in response to changes in both hunting method and pressure. Still hunters preferentially harvested older animals compared to dog hunters. Deer were 2.37 times more susceptible to harvest from dog hunting than from still hunting. Hunter-induced mortality was estimated as 1.73 and 4.10 times as large as nonhunting mortality for still and dog hunting, respectively. The temporal pattern of estimated prehunt population sizes was significantly correlated with the temporal pattern of car-deer accidents recorded on the site during the same time period, suggesting that the temporal pattern of the population estimates is accurate. If the number of cohorts is large and an accurate estimate of hunter effort can be obtained, this technique may provide more reliable population estimates than previously available techniques because it imposes fewer and less stringent biological assumptions.

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