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Deer research projects


Wildlife and forestry researchers are currently involved with the following projects relating to white-tailed deer:

Estimating survival and cause-specific mortality of adult male white-tailed deer in Wisconsin

This study was designed to provide rigorous estimates of the buck recovery rate or its components (buck survival and cause-specific mortality), and hence increased accuracy of SAK population estimates. Additionally, this study will enhance our understanding of the effects and magnitude of hunter bias on estimates of cause- and age-specific mortality rates on male deer, and a greater understanding of spatial and temporal effects on variation in mortality of male deer across Wisconsin.

This study is also known as the Buck mortality study

Project timeline: 2010 - 2015

Lead DNR scientists: Dan Storm and Karl Martin.

Impact of predation, winter weather, and habitat on white-tailed deer fawn recruitment in Wisconsin

This study was designed to examine several possible causes for variable deer population goals in northern and eastern Wisconsin by focusing on deer fawn survival and recruitment as impacted by species-specific predation, winter weather, and habitat conditions. Additionally, estimates of black bear, coyote, and wolf predation on white-tailed deer fawns in the northern forest and eastern farmland deer management regions will be obtained. Understanding impacts of various predators on fawn survival is important for formulating appropriate harvest recommendations for deer populations throughout northern Wisconsin.

Project timeline: 2011 - 2013

Lead DNR scientists: Dan Storm and Karl Martin.

This study is also known as the Predation and fawn recruitment study.

Evaluation of Wisconsin's deer population monitoring and management system

The objective of this research is to quantify the accuracy of sex-age-kill (SAK) population estimates and harvest predictions including evaluating impacts by input variables and explore other population models to determine their effectiveness to estimate deer populations. This study is expected to increase the understanding of factors affecting the harvest of white-tailed deer and rate of population increase which will lead to a better understanding of the accuracy and precision of the current deer population monitoring and harvest management system. This information is needed to increase the public's confidence in the department's deer management program and willingness to harvest the number of antlerless deer required to maintain populations at goal levels.

Project timeline: 1995 - ongoing

Lead DNR scientists: Dan Storm

An evaluation of the usefulness of deer-vehicle collision data as indices to deer population abundance

Monitoring deer populations is crucial for harvest management. Recent research has suggested limitations to current monitoring techniques (i.e. audit of the SAK model), and they remain controversial with the public. Additional, independent sources of information on population trends of deer are desirable, and deer-vehicle collision data has been suggested as potentially useful for that purpose. This research project was intended to identify sources of deer-vehicle collision data, understand data collection procedures, and evaluate potential usefulness of such data for monitoring deer populations.

Project timeline: 2011 - 2013

Lead DNR scientists: Dan Storm and Robert Rolley.

Relationships of deer ecology, disease ecology, and hunter behavior to manage chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Wisconsin

The objectives of this study is to provide the science needed to manage CWD in Wisconsin, use an adaptive management approach to evaluate the effectiveness of an aggressive CWD eradication program, and provide new scientific information upon which to base future decisions. This study will document deer movements and behavior in the CWD affected area of southwestern Wisconsin. It will determine the geographic distribution and prevalence of CWD, its transmission rates and its spread, relative to age, sex and genotype. Perceptions of human risk factors, attitudes of hunters, landowners, and the public and economic effects from CWD will be assessed. Size of the deer population in the CWD affected area will be determined and monitored.

Project timeline: 2002 - ongoing

Lead DNR scientists: Jordan Petchenik, Robert Rolley and Dan Storm.

Last revised: Friday April 01 2016