Well I thought I would start a thread on the camera survey that we are doing with QDMANB through the Wildlife Trust Fund. It is hard to get the info out to hunters but I thought this forum would be a good way to keep everyone updated.
There are actually two surveys being done corresponding to the two that were done last year. One in the north and one in the south. We applied for one in the central part of the province but were not successful in getting all three. The sites are the same as last year and the information is to see how well it can be replicated to know if this is something that can be used to estimate deer densities, buck:doe
ratios, buck age class and fawn recruitment. Although this type of survey was developed and refined by the Mississippi State University researchers Dr. Stephen Demarais, William McKinley and Dr. Harry Jacobson it is being used and endorsed by many other leading deer researchers and while their deer numbers and habitat are quite different than ours we thought that survey in itself could work in NB.
There are 6 adjoining sites prebaited for 7-10 days covering three properties here in the south. Each block consists of 100 acres, which will give us a total for a little less than 1 square mile. We just multiply the difference to calculate a square mile. The baits are located roughly in the center of each block. The survey then runs for 14 consecutive days.
One of the assumptions used in the survey method is that bucks and does use the bait sites equally, maybe not at the same times each day but the same amount whether that tends to be at night for many of the bucks or during daylight for many of the does. This seems to bear out in our survey as it has in others. Some areas have thought that the timing on the surveys, whether in the early fall or late winter, have an effect on whether does or bucks dominate a particular site. We didn't find animals expressing dominance by chasing off the opposite sex other than one old doe putting the run to a yearling, who kept coming back anyway
but we did find that some sites were used more by does than bucks and vise versa. Whether that was due to a dominance issue, location or just closer to their core areas remains to be seen. Two of our sites showed this, one being dominated by does only with no buck pictures at all at the site and another which was bucks only with no doe pictures. Both of these sites were located ajoining so it would appear simple dominance wasn't the issue. The other 4 sites seemed to have an equal representation (proportionally) of both bucks and does.
Last years data showed that we had 21 deer/square mile or 8 deer/km squared, 2.81 does:buck
and a fawn recruitment of just over 1 fawn/doe, including yearling does. Total deer numbers/square mile were slightly higher than zone averages which was to be expected as it was on private ground with some agriculture in the surrounding areas. There are higher numbers in some areas and lower in others so it is representative of the zone average of 6 deer/km squared. The zone doe:buck
average for zone 22 was 2.8 does:buck
which is the exact same. DNR doesn't do fawn recruitment but we are going to do some comparison with the fawn mortality studies done and see how it corresponds.
The prebaiting phase has started and will be completed on Wednesday (tomorrow) and the camera survey will begin on Thursday. It will run for 14 days and be complete by September 30th.
Analysis of the data is done with the provincial biologist. Numbers are calculated by first going through all of the thousands of pictures and indentifying every unique buck. Then you use the total number of buck pictures against the number of individual bucks to calculate the population factor. You also calculate in an extrapolation factor which takes into account deer that may not have found or used the bait sites in the allotted time. The population factor and extrapolation factor is then used to calculate the number of unique does which will then give you the buck:doe
ratio. From that you can then do the same thing and calculate the number of fawns:doe
. All unique bucks are then aged "on the hoof" to give you your buck age class structure.
DNR's direct mandate is for the management of deer on crown lands and while they track numbers on a zone level there is no mechanism for determining more localized numbers. Since the majority of deer are now on private ground, it is hoped that this type of survey can be used in the future to provide real numbers to assist towns/municpalities and land owners, etc. with real numbers. Since to effectively address any deer system, the first criteria required to gain an appreciation of the situation is an estimate of the deer herd density and corresponding herd ratios. It is also our hope that we can partner with organizations operating on crown land and government to assist with providing real numbers for future management considerations.