White – tailed Deer Population Survey

The goal of the project was to conduct a population census within each of 17 zones to better manage white-tailed deer in Delaware. The purpose of the aerial infrared survey was to locate and map the group locations and enumerate deer found within each group within each of the 17 survey blocks established. Vision Air Research, Inc. was contracted to conduct the surveys by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife. Survey flights were conducted February – March 2009.

Study Area

Data was collected in each of the 17 management zones (Figure 1).  Study plots were defined as 8 mile by 2 mile plots which were efficient block configuration for aerial surveys.  A single plot was placed within each of the 17 Deer and Turkey Management Zones by Department personnel (Figure 2).  Plot placement was based on the range of habitat or vegetation cover types found within each management unit.  The plot was placed to afford the plot with the same proportion of the range of cover types found within that zone.

Parallel transects were placed to run the long way within each rectangular plot.  Transects were spaced 500 ft apart to provide complete coverage.  The plot size and configuration allows for a plot to be completed within a single survey session to avoid the potential for over or under counting deer through movement.

Deer foraging around a home captured in infrared from 1,000ft above ground level.

Delaware Deer & Turkey Management Zones.  Source: DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Example deer survey plot placement within deer management zones in southern Delaware. Placement depicted was used for the 2005 deer surveys.  Source: DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife.