Deer Management Principles (WSJCANC)

Summary:

Participants will learn about the white-tailed deer in Arkansas and the importance of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) scientific management practices and principles.

Grade Level:

9 - 12

Recommended Setting:

Indoor or outdoor classroom

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Witt Stephens Junior Central Arkansas Nature Center, Little Rock

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 501-907-0636

Duration:

45 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

30

Objectives:

  • Learn about AGFC’s deer management strategies including urban deer management techniques.
  • See how habitat change, poaching, overpopulation and disease can affect deer populations.
  • Understand what AGFC wildlife biologists must do to address these dangers.

 

Key Terms*:

Amendment 75 of 1996

Antler

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC)

Browse/browse line

Buck

Carrying capacity

Central Arkansas Nature Center (CANC)

Chronic wasting disease

Dart gun

Doe

Fawn

Grunt

Habitat

Jawbone extractor

Scientific management

Snort

Venison

Wildlife biologist

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Annual deer harvest statistic sheets

Copies of Arkansas deer season summary

Copies of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on urban hunts

Deer camp data sheets

Deer collars

Deer dart guns and darts

Deer jawbones, extractors and display board

Deer Management Principles Power Point presentation

DMAP brochures

Pencil and paper

Tissue sample vials

Background:

Arkansas has about one million white-tailed deer. AGFC has had tremendous success managing white-tailed deer, bringing the statewide herd back from only 500 deer in 1930. Wildlife biologists now focus on maintaining the deer population by focusing on herd health while balancing the needs of human interest groups.

Procedure:

  1. Introduce yourself and the CANC. Explain that it is owned and operated by AGFC and showcases the agency’s mission. Also tell how Amendment 75 of 1996 funds paid for the facility and allow free admission.
  2. Give the Power Point presentation on AGFC wildlife biologists collecting data on white-tailed deer.
  3. Circulate the deer collars, jawbones and extractors and dart guns and darts and explain how wildlife biologists use them to monitor individual deer throughout the year. Pass out the deer camp data sheets and explain how wildlife biologists use information collected by hunters in their management decisions.
  4. Discuss the history of deer populations in Arkansas. Focus on habitat destruction and unregulated taking as major reasons for population declines. Talk about restoration efforts and the progression of regulated hunting. Explain that deer browse on various plants, and suitable habitat must contain a wide range of plant species. AGFC wildlife biologists manage habitat areas to stay within the carrying capacity for deer and other wildlife.
  5. Compare deer populations today with populations from 10, 50, 100 and 200 years ago. Ask participants the reasons for the disparities over time. Emphasize AGFC’s scientific management principles combined with efforts by deer hunters to encourage prime deer herd populations.
  6. Discuss the threat of disease in deer populations and how these threats increase with population numbers. Describe chronic wasting disease (CWD) and other diseases affecting Arkansas’ deer populations. Pass around the tissue sample vials and explain how wildlife biologists use them to monitor the deer herd for diseases. Discuss management practices to control disease. Be sure the participants understand that hunting is a scientific management method used by wildlife biologists to keep the deer herd within healthy limits. Pass out the deer camp data sheets and deer health check forms and discuss how they are used.
  7. Discuss possible deer/human conflicts: automobile collisions, crop damage and urban deer conflicts. Distribute copies of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article on urban hunting in Cherokee Village. Ask participants for solutions to deer management issues. Overview the pros and cons of their ideas and bring up any ideas they omitted. Point out that hunting is the primary means of remedying deer/human conflicts.
  8. Finish by giving information on the health benefits of venison. Compare with other meats and note the lower levels of fat, cholesterol and calories of venison. Point out that wild game is often more healthy than commercial meat.

 

 

Modifications:

  • Use the historical white-tailed deer population data and annual harvest statistics to develop math lessons.
  • Have participants review historical data on white-tailed deer in Arkansas and write reports on how AGFC revitalized the population after virtual extirpation.
  • Assign participants to report on the deer management assistance program (DMAP) offered to private landowners by AGFC. Information is available from the AGFC wildlife division at 501-223-6300, the website at www.agfc.com and the hunting regulations guidebook.
  • Have participants find more information on deer management methods by reviewing websites. Some resources are:

 

Review:

  • What are some of the factors wildlife biologists must consider in managing the deer population? (Available habitat, number of deer, presence or threat of diseases, deer harvest statistics)
  • What part do hunters play in conserving the deer herd? (Hunters keep the population levels healthy by harvesting deer, by collecting and reporting data to AGFC, by funding conservation work through license sales.)
  • Why do deer and humans conflict more in urban areas than other areas? (Deer can quickly overpopulate from hunting restrictions, habitat loss, etc.)

 

Glossary:

Antler – the bony structure that annually grows and falls off the head of adult male deer, elk and other cervids; frequently is branched with multiple terminal points

Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) – the state agency responsible for managing fish and wildlife populations

Browse/browse line – the feeding activity of deer of selecting various foods; the height to which dear can reach to consume vegetation and fruits

Buck – an adult mail deer

Carrying capacity – the amount of wildlife a given area of land can sustain; varies with amount of food, water and shelter available

Chronic Wasting Disease – a degenerative, fatal neurological disease found only among deer, elk and moose marked by loss of body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination and eventual death; the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has not found any cases in the state and has enacted special regulations concerning importing live deer or carcasses from areas where the condition exists

Dart gun – a tranquilizing device used by wildlife biologists to anesthetize deer for research or data collection

Doe – an adult female deer

Fawn – a juvenile deer

Grunt – a low-pitched mating call made by bucks when trailing does

 Habitat – living place for wild animals that includes available food, water and space

Jawbone extractor – a tool used by wildlife biologists to remove a deer jawbone in order to determine the animal’s age

Scientific management – the practice of researching and applying professional, biological standards to ensure wildlife species remain at healthy levels balanced with available habitat

Snort – an alarm sound made by deer by sharply blowing through the nose that alerts other deer to potential dangers

Venison – the meat from a white-tailed deer; venison is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol

Wildlife biologist – a scientist who studies and manages wild animals