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Monday, January 25 • 3:00pm - 3:20pm
Spatially Explicit Assessment of Landscape Characteristics Influencing Trophy White-Tailed Deer Harvests Through Time

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AUTHORS: Rebecca L. Cain*, Michigan State University; David M. Williams, Michigan State University; William F. Porter, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: When the number of records is mapped, it is easy to see that the harvest of trophy white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus varies spatially, thus some areas of the United States are more likely than others to produce trophy individuals. Due to the high energetic and nutritional requirements of antler growth, only healthy deer are able to produce antlers large enough to achieve trophy status. Therefore, areas that consistently report trophy harvests must denote the presence of favorable habitat, management, or other ecological conditions. Research on white-tailed deer has predominantly been conducted at small-spatial scales, thus the influence of environmental conditions across broad geographic regions is essentially unknown. Although there are many ideas about the factors driving the spatial heterogeneity in trophy whitetail harvests, no studies have been conducted at this landscape scale to test if these assumptions are accurate. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of various landscape characteristics on the number of trophy white-tailed deer harvested in the Midwestern region of the United States. We used the Boone and Crockett Club’s century-long database of trophy deer to examine the trends at a regional scale. We chose the Midwest for our study area because this region has consistently produced record-sized deer. Moreover, we used counties as the spatial unit for the reported harvest of trophy whitetails. We collected data on land cover, climate, and trophy deer harvests. We analyzed the impact of explanatory variables on the number of Boone and Crockett records for trophy white-tailed deer using a spatial-temporal model within a Bayesian framework for 858 counties (9 states). We quantify and discuss various landscape characteristics that influence trophy white-tailed deer harvest. Findings from this research provide new information relating broad-scale environmental features to population health.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:00pm - 3:20pm
Vandenberg A

Attendees (24)