Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Earth and Ocean Sciences

Sub-Department

Earth and Environmental Resources Management

First Advisor

Jill T Anderson

Abstract

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have gone from locally extirpated to overabundant in many areas in the United States since the early 1900s. Ecosystems with chronically overabundant populations experience many disastrous effects resulting from the selective browsing behavior of deer. White-tailed deer are managed at the state level resulting in different management strategies, harvest data collection, and deer management goals between states. However recreational hunting is the primary tool used by wildlife agencies to control population growth. As such, it is beneficial to understand the influence each regulatory variable has on white-tailed deer harvest.

For this research, I compiled historical harvest data records provided by various state wildlife agencies. Correlation, regression and ANOVA procedures were executed on the data. Results suggest that numerous variables have a significant impact on doe harvest, one being hunter effort. Additionally, North Carolina and South Carolina are similar in many ways, but they are not congruent when it comes to white-tailed deer management. Moreover, analyses were conducted to test if areas with longer and earlier beginning hunting seasons than surrounding states result in greater numbers of nonresident hunters. The research suggests that later starting and shorter gun seasons increase the number of nonresident hunters, which is the opposite of what I was expecting to occur. The nonparsimonious models for total harvest and doe harvest indicate that changes in gun season and muzzleloader season regulations are very influential on harvest results.

This research provides a broad understanding of the predicted harvest response to the manipulation of hunting regulations. The body of research also represents the use of applied sciences and statistics in an attempt to discover new and innovative ways to monitor and manage white-tailed deer in the Southeast. One anticipated benefit from this research is to demonstrate the need for states to collect compatible information from their citizen hunters. Such uniformity in the data could provide deer managers with numerous benefits, including an easier time answering the thousands of questions from citizens about deer, and also facilitate more efficient interstate communication concerning problematic trends in the deer herd.

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