DNR surveying deer populations in 41 counties
August 15, 2012 ·
The Division of Natural Resources is conducting what they call “spotlight surveys” over the next few weeks. It’s a method used to look at deer populations, and they are doing it in nearly every county in the state.
DNR personnel are using state vehicles on county roads to do the spotlight surveys.
They are using a method called “spotlight distance sampling,” in which personnel will actually use spotlights to search selected woods and roads for deer.
The surveys won’t include collection of dead animals and DNR personnel won’t enter private property to do their searches.
Gary Foster is the supervisor of game management with the DNR.
"We just here recently revised our deer operational plan, and one of the products that came out of that plan was that we wanted to implement a statewide deer monitoring system," Foster said.
"We will driving approximately 30 miles of randomly selected routes in these selected counties."
The DNR is looking for deer in 41 counties.
Exempt counties are Hancock, Ohio, Wetzel, Taylor, Wood, Ritchie, Lewis, Clay, Cabell, Kanawha, Logan, Morgan, Berkeley, and Fayette.
Foster says that’s about the limit at which the DNR can operate.
"We have a capacity in terms of manpower to do so many routes. Unfortunately we just do not have the personnel and the manpower to conduct 55 spotlight surveys, to do it in every county," he said.
The DNR is going out on the survey expeditions about half an hour after sunset.
The data collecting will continue into September.
The DNR is collecting biological data; primarily numbers of male deer, female deer, and young deer.
"We will also be taking distances from where we are observing those animals to the distance from our observation point in the vehicle, to the deer itself, and the angle off of the road," Foster said.
Once all the data is collected, the DNR can also then assess how to set hunting seasons over the next few years.
In some areas of the state, there are special hunts that allow deer hunting over longer periods because of population densities.
In other areas of the state, there aren’t, due to lower populations.
Foster says the spotlighting methods are good ways to gauge how to make changes to seasons.
"The data entry process will take a considerable amount of time to enter, because all of these sightings will be entered into a computer database," he said.
"Seasons are already set for 2012, but it will give us some insight for next year."
In the past five years, the DNR has conducted these spotlight surveys in select counties. But this step is more ambitious, with the largest number of selected counties in recent years.