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Monday, January 25 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Assessing Local-Scale Population Abundance and Recovery of White-Tailed Deer Following A Disease Event

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AUTHORS: Sonja A. Christensen*, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; David M. Williams, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; William F. Porter, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University; Brent Rudolph, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Amy C. Dechen Quinn, State University of New York

ABSTRACT: Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is the most significant source of viral disease-related mortality in white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus in the United States. Michigan has seen an increase in EHD related deer mortality since 2006, and 2012 was the largest outbreak of EHD in Michigan history. This perturbation provided an opportunity to evaluate deer dynamics as affected by a major local mortality event at a spatial scale not typically addressed by management agencies. Our objectives were to 1) evaluate local population recovery after an EHD event and 2) compare local-population abundance of deer in an EHD-impacted area with deer abundance in an unaffected area using two survey methods. We used distance sampling techniques for ground-based and aerial surveys to estimate annual abundance of unmarked deer populations. Because proximity to wetlands may impact EHD occurrence, we surveyed transects at 2 distances along each side of a riparian corridor (~1km and 5km). We present differences in deer abundance for sites affected and unaffected by EHD as estimated by ground-based and aerial methods, which were targeted for cost efficiency and availability for state agencies. For each study area we provided abundance estimates in relation to distance from the riparian corridor. Abundance estimates in the affected area were lower along transects near the river, reflecting EHD mortality associated with wetlands, and the opposite was true in the unaffected site. Our research has important implications to management of deer because we address challenges posed by sudden and severe mortality events in ungulate populations at local scales.

Monday January 25, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Vandenberg A

Attendees (31)