Survival and harvest-related mortality of white-tailed deer in Massachusetts

Wildlife Society Bulletin
By: , and 



We monitored 142 radiocollared adult (≥1.0 yr old) white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in 3 study areas of Massachusetts, USA, to estimate annual survival and mortality due to legal hunting. We then applied these rates to deer harvest information to estimate deer population trends over time, and compared these to trends derived solely from harvest data estimates. Estimated adult female survival rates were similar (0.82–0.86), and uniformly high, across 3 management zones in Massachusetts that differed in landscape composition, human density, and harvest regulations. Legal hunting accounted for 16–29% of all adult female mortality. Estimated adult male survival rates varied from 0.55 to 0.79, and legal hunting accounted for 40–75% of all mortality. Use of composite hunting mortality rates produced realistic estimates for adult deer populations in 2 zones, but not for the third, where estimation was hindered by regulatory restrictions on antlerless deer harvest. In addition, the population estimates we calculated were generally higher than those derived from population reconstruction, likely due to relatively low harvest pressure. Legal harvest may not be the dominant form of deer mortality in developed landscapes; thus, estimates of populations or trends that rely solely on harvest data will likely be underestimates.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Survival and harvest-related mortality of white-tailed deer in Massachusetts
Series title Wildlife Society Bulletin
DOI 10.1002/wsb.40
Volume 35
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 209
Last page 219
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Berkshire County, Franklin County, Middlesex County, Plymouth County
City Carlisle, Carver, Plymouth
Other Geospatial Myles Standish State Forest
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