Article Posted: April 13, 2000

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LANSING--Department of Natural Resources Wildlife personnel
will begin deer pellet group surveys in the northern
portions of the Lower Peninsula and the western Upper
Peninsula this week. The DNR has used pellet surveys to
measure the distribution and abundance of white-tailed deer
populations since the early 1950s.
"This survey technique is used in Michigan because of the
secretive nature of whitetails and the difficulty in
counting them in forested habitats," said Dr. Harry Hill,
biometrician-in-charge of field surveys. The technique
involves wildlife biologists and other personnel counting
the number of deer pellet groups along well-defined survey
transects. Biologists then are able to estimate the number
of deer within a defined area. These estimates often are
expressed as the number of deer per square mile.
The technique does not work well in the southern one-third
of the state where intensive agricultural activities disturb
evidence of deer. The DNR uses sex-age-kill population
models, based on harvest numbers and the sex and age of
harvested deer, to estimate the deer population in this
Wildlife managers also will be counting the number of dead
deer they encounter while conducting pellet surveys this
year. "Spring is the best time of year to assess how winter
conditions impacted deer populations on the northern fringe
of their range," said Rebecca Humphries, Wildlife Chief.
"Deer seek shelter in winter deer yards, such as cedar
swamps, when snow depths and cold temperatures prevail in
northern Michigan. Mother Nature takes her toll if bitter
winter conditions extend for too long."
Deer pellet surveys and dead deer searches are just two of
the techniques that provide wildlife managers with important
information for assessing the status of Michigan's deer
population. These survey results, along with other
information about the deer population, are necessary to
determine if the DNR is nearing its deer population goal.
Harvest regulations are adjusted each year in response to a
desired deer population size.

Source: MDNR

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