A research report just released by Fish, Wildlife & Parks represents, according to one of its authors, a "state-of-the-art synthesis," of the Statewide Deer Research Studies conducted by FWP during the period from 1975-1995.
The 180-page document, entitled Ecology and Management of Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer in Montana, is available at no charge at all FWP Regional Offices and at the Butte, Helena and Havre area resource offices.
Dave Pac, one of FWP's Statewide Deer Research Studies biologists and one of the report's authors, says the report uses new knowledge of deer ecology to provide management recommendations tailored to the differences between mule deer and whitetails, and to characteristics of the environments occupied by each species. Joining Pac in authoring the report were Richard Mackie, of Montana State University, and Ken Hamlin and Gary Dusek of FWP.
"Traditional population theory generally considered annual variation in the environment to be unimportant," Pac says. "But in our studies, environmental variation was a significant influence on deer population dynamics."
The publication describes in detail those factors that caused annual changes in fawn recruitment, adult mortality and overall deer numbers. The interaction among winter losses, predation and hunting also is discussed. In addition, the report reveals important differences in the dynamics of mule deer and white-tailed deer, and outlines a new management technique called Adaptive Harvest Management.
Pac said he believes the findings from this 20-year research study can improve the ability of FWP to detect major changes in deer population size and respond more quickly with appropriate hunting seasons.
Much of the funding for the study was provided through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) Act dollars.