Contributed Oral

Preliminary Results of a Delayed Spring Turkey Hunting Season on Wild Turkey Reproduction in South-Central Tennessee
Joe Quehl, Lindsey Phillips, Vincent Johnson, David Buehler, Craig Harper, Roger Shields, Roger Applegate

Areas of south-central Tennessee experienced steady declines in spring turkey harvest from 2010 to 2016. Wild turkey harvest in Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne Counties decreased 38%, 33%, and 38%, respectively, over that time-period. We initiated a project in 2017 to investigate why harvest rates in south-central Tennessee were declining. Based on 464 radio-marked individuals, we recorded only 16% nest success and 9% poult success, which includes any poult to survive past 28 days from hatching. In July 2020, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission voted to delay the spring turkey season by two weeks and decrease the bag limit from 4 to 3 bearded turkeys in Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln, and Wayne Counties. This management action was made to determine if the hunting season is harvesting dominant males too early in the season and therefore, causing low productivity by disrupting the breeding of hens. We will assess this theory by comparing reproductive parameters in counties with the delayed spring season to their documented rates in previous years and to adjacent counties with stable populations and no delayed season opening date. Preliminary data collected in 2021 will be used to compare these parameters before and after the delayed season in Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne Counties.  

Can R3 Programs Create New Hunters? Evaluating Impacts of Hunting Workshops on College Students Across the United States
Lincoln Larson, Victoria Vayer, Richard von Furstenberg, M. Nils Peterson, KangJae Lee

Persistent declines in hunter numbers across the United States have made hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) a high priority within the North American wildlife management community. Despite a proliferation of R3 initiatives in recent years, little research has systematically evaluated the effects of these programs on the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of new hunters. We designed, implemented, and evaluated a “Getting Started Outdoors: Hunting 101” workshop specifically targeting college students. Using quantitative and qualitative analysis of surveys conducted before and after the workshop, we assessed impacts of the R3 effort on students at 13 universities in 13 U.S. states from 2018-2020. Across all states, 16 workshops attracted 271 total participants, with 227 completing both a pre and post workshop assessment. We successfully recruited a diverse group of undergraduate (72%) and graduate students (25%), including many who were women (42%) and students of color (27%); 84% were first-time hunters. Participants were motivated to hunt for food and conservation-related purposes (44% and 46% rated very important), and they were primarily constrained by inadequate skills and knowledge related to things such as use of firearms (57%) and game meat preparation (70%). The workshop reduced most barriers to hunting and increased participants’ confidence and skills related to hunting. After the workshop, most participants said they would definitely (50%) or probably (34%) hunt in the future; 83% said they would likely purchase a hunting license, and 94% said they would eat game meat obtained through hunting.  Increases in positive attitudes towards hunters and hunting suggested the workshop fostered positive views of hunters and hunting among participants. Overall, results show the workshops effective attracted a diverse pool of potential hunters, increased interest in future hunting, and created hunting advocates.  Findings highlight the potentially powerful impact of R3 programs focused on diverse college students.

Granting Landowners Use Rights to Wildlife as a Potential Tool for Ecosystem Conservation in the Western United States
Catheirne Semcer

Elk, deer, and other publicly owned wildlife impose financial costs on private landowners in the Western United States, especially those reliant on agriculture for their livelihood. These costs can add to pressures to convert land to uses that compromise key ecosystem services provided by private lands including water filtration, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity. Reducing the pressure to convert land is essential to ensure the continued flow of ecosystem services to society and to achieving the national conservation goal of conserving 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. Giving landowners limited, regulated, and transferrable use rights to wildlife, via hunting permissions, represents a potentially cost-effective way to offset the financial costs publicly owned wildlife creates for private landowners and reduce the risk of land conversion. Such rights enable landowners to tap into the multi-billion US hunting market and develop new revenue streams. At the same time agency programs managing the allocation and oversight of these use rights must meet certain minimum conditions for them to effectively contribute to conservation. We discuss how use rights have enabled conservation efforts globally, their applicability in the US context, and political controversies surrounding their adoption. We investigate existing use rights programs in the US and how they are structured.  Finally, we identify what a model wildlife use rights program, one that maximizes conservation outcomes, would look like based on an analysis of 5 programs in the Western US that measures them against recognized best practices.

A Profile of Wildlife Management Area Hunters in South Carolina and Their Views Towards Conservation and Management
Todd Fisher, Shari Rodriguez

In South Carolina, there are over 1.1 million acres of public hunting lands (i.e., Wildlife Management Areas [WMAs]) that are funded by hunters who purchase a WMA permit to hunt them. Over 60,000 WMA permits are sold annually, yet relatively little is known about these hunters and how they use WMAs. With hunters providing a large source of funding for the WMA program, it is important that managers understand who these hunters are and how they utilize WMAs to be able to properly manage public lands for hunter use. We administered a mail-based questionnaire to a random sample of 3,000 South Carolina WMA permit holders. The questionnaire addressed a variety of information to build a profile of WMA hunters. Our respondents were consistent with national trends regarding hunters, with an average age of 52 years and identifying as predominately Caucasian (96%) and male (90%). Most of our respondents (57%) used WMAs as a supplement to private land hunting, but a smaller percentage of individuals (10%) relied solely on WMAs for hunting access. On average, WMA permit holders viewed hunters as conservationists and had positive views of hunting’s role in wildlife conservation and management. Results from our study suggest there is broad support from WMA permit holders for the state agency and the WMA program, which may present an opportunity for a partnership between these two groups on potentially divisive issues such as increases in the price of hunting licenses or permits, regulation changes, and land acquisition. Our study also provides evidence of the value and need for WMAs or similar public lands for hunting access, not only for those using it as a supplement to private land but also for the notable proportion of hunters relying solely on WMAs for hunting access.

Harvest and Sale of Shorebirds in Guyana
Amelia Cox, Leon Moore, Barbara Frei, Christian Roy, Brad Andres

One of the most threatened guilds of birds in North America, shorebirds have declined by 40% since 1970. Shorebird hunting is legal and practiced in many countries in the Caribbean and South America. This practice is poorly documented and therefore quantifying the impact of this harvest is challenging. This is exemplified in Guyana, where there are currently no limits or restrictions on shorebird harvest during the non-breeding season. To quantify the number of shorebirds harvested in Guyana, we conducted biweekly surveys at two popular beaches where birds are harvested during fall migration (August-November) in 2020. Active harvesters on the beaches were interviewed about the numbers of shorebirds they harvested daily, how often they harvested birds, and what they did with the shorebirds. Using a Bayesian statistical framework, we estimate that 27,000 (95% BCI: 14,000-47,000) shorebirds are harvested on these two beaches during fall migration annually. Approximately 20-30% of interviewees reported selling harvested shorebirds for additional income. In 2020, we also monitored the village of Port Mourant’s weekend markets for shorebird sales biweekly, counting the number of market stalls selling shorebirds, the number of shorebirds being sold, and the price. Prices varied seasonally, with shorebirds ranging in price from $0.25- 1.00 (USD) for small and large birds, respectively. Projecting across all market dates, we estimate that 12,000 (95% BCI: 9,000-17,000) shorebirds were sold at this market from August 29 to November 11 in 2020. We conclude that shorebird harvest for personal use and sale is substantial in Guyana and that harvesters should be engaged proactively in the conservation and management of shorebirds to ensure that they maintain their livelihood.

Assessing Regulatory Frameworks and Deer Movements to Minimize Conflicts Associated with Dog-Hunting for White-Tailed Deer
Gino D’Angelo, Thomas Prebyl, David Osborn, Jacalyn Rosenberger

In the United States, hunting white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with dogs is permitted only in 9 states of the Southeast.  Although the practice has a long tradition in the region, conflicts among hunters, non-hunters, and landowners threaten the future of dog-deer hunting.  We reviewed hunting regulations and primary literature, interviewed agency biologists, and simulated deer movements on national forests in Mississippi to investigate the current status of dog-deer hunting.  We developed recommendations for best practices to manage methods associated with the practice.  States regulate dog-deer hunting differently depending on the state, region within the state, and whether hunting occurs on private or public lands.  Dog trespass onto unauthorized properties was the most common complaint that each state agency received from disgruntled stakeholders.  Hunter permitting and registration requirements have made hunters more accountable for trespass and were beneficial based on the perceptions of state agencies of fewer public complaints.  The results of our simulations indicated that the 50th, 70th, and 90th percentiles of the expected maximum distances travelled by deer during dog-deer hunts to be 1.9 km, 2.3 km, and 2.7 km, respectively.  In turn, we expect hunts would need to be limited to areas >1.9 km from property boundaries to ensure 50% of hunts are completely contained on a specific property, >2.3 km to ensure 70% containment, or >2.7 km to ensure 90% containment.  When excursions by deer were eliminated from simulations, the expected distances required to contain 50, 70, and 90% of hunts were reduced ≥52% to 0.9 km, 1.1 km, 1.3 km respectively.  We recommend: 1) developing plans for consistent communication among agencies and stakeholders; 2) allowing dog-deer hunting where the practice is accepted culturally; 3) developing and enforcing permit systems to ensure hunter accountability; and 4) requiring tracking and correction collars on dogs to reduce trespass.

Influence of Landscape Characteristics on Hunter Space Use and Success
Mary M. Rowland, Ryan Nielson, Michael Wisdom, Bruce Johnson, Darren Clark, Guy DiDonato

Sport hunting of ungulates is a predominant recreational pursuit and population management tool. Land management also influences ungulate distributions during and outside hunting seasons. Although research on ungulate responses to hunting and land use is widespread, knowledge gaps persist about hunter space use and landscape features discriminating among hunt types and between successful and unsuccessful hunters. We used telemetry data from 341 hunters to estimate space use from 2008-2013 during 3 types of controlled, 5-day hunts for antlered mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and elk (Cervus canadensis) in Oregon, USA: archery elk, rifle deer, and rifle elk. We developed utilization distributions for each hunter, created core areas for groups of hunters, and derived metrics of space use overlap between successful and unsuccessful hunters. We also modeled predictors of space use using resource utilization functions. Hunter space use was compressed, with even the largest core area encompassing <16% (1,178 ha) of the area. Space use of rifle hunters was similar, compared to archers, and core areas of successful hunters were markedly smaller than those of unsuccessful hunters. Percentage cover and distance from open roads were the most consistent covariates in the 6 final models but with different signs. Although the same covariates were in the final models for unsuccessful and successful rifle elk hunters, their negligible spatial overlap suggested they sought those features in different locales, a pattern also documented for rifle deer hunters. Our models performed well (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients = 0.99 for 5 of 6 models), reflecting their utility for managing hunters and landscapes. Our results suggest that strategic management of roads and forest cover can benefit managers seeking to balance hunter opportunity and satisfaction with harvest objectives, and that differences in space use among hunter groups should be accounted for in hunting season designs.

Contributed Oral
Location: Virtual Date: November 4, 2021 Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm