By Bonnie Chasteen
Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.
Did Missouri’s hunters see more or fewer deer when they were afield compared to last hunting season? Are landowners happy with deer numbers in their area, or do they feel the need for change? To answer questions like these, MDC’s Deer Program has been mailing surveys to Missourians since 1973.
The surveys include questions about perceived changes in the deer population, such as number of big bucks and total deer, as well as opinions about deer population size and trends.
“Deer biologists want to manage for a healthy and sustainable deer population,” said MDC Animal Resource Scientist Kevyn Wiskirchen. “We work to keep the population within social carrying capacity.”
This means keeping deer numbers within the range of what local people desire and will tolerate.
“Damage to crops or gardens and risk of vehicle collisions with deer create the need to keep populations in check,” Wiskirchen said. When social issues such as these arise, his team considers “management actions that allow hunters to bring deer levels lower. When numbers dip below desired levels, we may need to restrict harvest and allow populations to increase.”
Data on specific days hunted and number of deer killed are important, both for a “trips-per-harvest” estimate and to better understand when hunters are spending time afield. “Trips-per-harvest measures the average amount of effort required for a successful hunt and tends to decrease as populations increase. This measure often influences hunter satisfaction and is also an important indicator of deer population trends,” Wiskirchen said.
Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler