Monday, April 17, 2006

PENNSYLVANIA NEWS: Zeroing in on measures of a healthy deer herd


Some hunters and others have wondered: How will the Pennsylvania Game Commission know if and when its deer management program is working? They now have their answer ... at least in part.

The commission has announced some of the measures it's going to use to analyze things like deer and forest habitat health.

Analyzing deer health will involve using reproductive data -- embryos per doe and fawn pregnancy rates -- from each wildlife management unit to evaluate trends in deer health.

"Reproduction was chosen as a primary measure for deer health because research has repeatedly shown there are differences in the reproductive rates of females in good physical condition and those in poor physical condition," said Chris Rosenberry, supervisor of the Game Commission's deer management section.

"Research also has confirmed that as a deer population's size increases, its reproductive rates decline. In fact, female fawns often stop breeding when deer populations are high."

Deer health will be gauged as good when 30 percent or more of fawns are bred; when 2-year-old females have 1.5 fawns or more; and when females 3 years or older have 1.7 fawns or more.

Habitat monitoring will examine forest sustainability. Forest habitat health would be gauged as good when at least 70 percent of sampled plots had adequate regeneration to replace the current forest canopy.

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