Reliable estimates of elk (Cervus elaphus) and deer (Odocoileus hemionus) abundance on Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California, are required to assess the success of management actions directed at these species. We conducted a double-observer aerial survey of elk on a large portion of Santa Rosa Island on March 19, 2009. All four persons on the helicopter were treated as observers. We used two analytical approaches: (1) with three capture occasions corresponding to three possible observers, pooling the observations from the two rear-seat observers, and (2) with four capture occasions treating each observer separately. Approach 1 resulted in an estimate of 483 elk in the survey zone with a 95-percent confidence interval of 479 to 524 elk. Approach 2 resulted in an estimate of 489 elk in the survey zone with a 95-percent confidence interval of 471 to 535 elk. Approximately 5 percent of the elk groups that were estimated to have been present in the survey area were not seen by any observer. Fog prevented us from collecting double-observer observations for deer as intended on March 20. However, we did count 434 deer during the double-observer counts of elk on March 19. Both the calculated number of elk and the observed number of deer are minimal estimates of numbers of each ungulate species on Santa Rosa Island as weather conditions precluded us from surveying the entire island.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Survey of Ungulate Abundance on Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Park, California, March 2009