Coyotes, deer, and hunters: applied ecology for informing deer and hunter management
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Forestry and Wildlife Science
MetadataShow full item record
My research was conducted to provide new methods and analyses to better inform management of white-tailed deer, coyotes, and hunters in Al In particular, my research will support efforts of the Alabama Deer Management Steering Committee, a committee comprised of individuals from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, U.S.G.S. Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit and Auburn University researchers, with the objective of managing white-tailed deer to meet multiple herd, hunter, and economic objectives. My first chapter introduces and tests AnimalFinder, a program that reduces the cost and time associated with camera surveys by semi-automating the presence-absence identification of animals in time-lapse camera trap images. I then explore the relationship between predators and competitors, and white-tailed deer fawn recruitment. My second chapter estimates coyote density and the influence of land cover at multiple sites across Alabama using spatial capture-recapture. In my third chapter, I use the coyote density estimates, along with camera survey data of wild pigs and deer, to examine factors influencing fawn recruitment across 16 management areas in Alabama. Finally, in my fourth chapter, I introduce a novel approach for evaluating actions that wildlife management agencies can take to influence hunter recruitment, retention, reactivation, and ultimately, hunting license sale profits that are crucial for state agency-led wildlife conservation efforts. These research contributions have the potential to help state agencies better manage and monitor wildlife populations, understand community dynamics, and anticipate changes in hunter-generated conservation funds.