Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Chad Bishop

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Wildlife Biology

Abstract

Cities and towns are expanding across the western United States into historic areas of wildlife habitat. Many species such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, and even elk are adapting to effectively live alongside humans in urban areas. However, animals and humans living in close proximity often creates problems with public safety as animals can become aggressive to people or damage property. Our study looks at how the City of Helena, Montana is managing a population of overabundant urban mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) using culling in order to reduce population density. We used distance sampling data to determine that the population density of mule deer in Helena has fallen significantly since the culling program was implemented. We also found that the amount of deer-human conflict that was reported to the Helena Police Department was directly correlated with mule deer population density. This supports the conclusion that culling is an effective tool for reducing population density of, and therefore conflict associated with, overabundant urban ungulates. However, we also found that the effort and cost required to remove each deer was quite variable year-to-year, but tended to increase slightly over time as the deer became trap-wise. This suggests that while culling may be an effective tool to reduce these populations initially, cities may want to look into a combination of immunocontraceptives and targeted culling for long-term population management.

Category

Life Sciences

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Apr 17th, 1:40 PM Apr 17th, 2:00 PM

Assessing the Effects of Culling as a Management Tool for Urban Mule Deer Populations

UC 331

Cities and towns are expanding across the western United States into historic areas of wildlife habitat. Many species such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, and even elk are adapting to effectively live alongside humans in urban areas. However, animals and humans living in close proximity often creates problems with public safety as animals can become aggressive to people or damage property. Our study looks at how the City of Helena, Montana is managing a population of overabundant urban mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) using culling in order to reduce population density. We used distance sampling data to determine that the population density of mule deer in Helena has fallen significantly since the culling program was implemented. We also found that the amount of deer-human conflict that was reported to the Helena Police Department was directly correlated with mule deer population density. This supports the conclusion that culling is an effective tool for reducing population density of, and therefore conflict associated with, overabundant urban ungulates. However, we also found that the effort and cost required to remove each deer was quite variable year-to-year, but tended to increase slightly over time as the deer became trap-wise. This suggests that while culling may be an effective tool to reduce these populations initially, cities may want to look into a combination of immunocontraceptives and targeted culling for long-term population management.