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Ian Johnson

Estimating White-Tailed Deer Abundance in Urban Freshwater Tidal Marsh Habitat

Project Description

In the past century deer populations have responded extremely well to human development. Today deer populations are the highest that they have been for centuries. These animals thrive in anthropogenic landscapes and in many places have become overabundant, wreaking havoc on their ecosystems and increasing deer/human conflict. Given these increases in population in response to continued urban sprawl, the most effective deer management strategies have become a topic of intense debate. This study, conducted at John Heinz National Wildlife refuge, aimed to estimate deer abundance while also evaluating how various factors impact survey results. We found a higher rate of deer detectability in colder months due to increased visibility when trees have shed their leaves. The deer population at Heinz is stable suggesting that the implemented deer management strategy is effective. Higher resolution surveying as well as browse impact surveys should be employed to supplement the data reported here to determine population trends and other ecological impacts.

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