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Estimating Time of Death in White-Tailed Deer

John D. Gill and David C. O'Meara
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Jul., 1965), pp. 471-486
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3798044
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3798044
Page Count: 16
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Estimating Time of Death in White-Tailed Deer
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Abstract

Methods have been devised for use in law-enforcement investigations which require estimating the length of time a deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has been dead. The study area was near Bar Harbor, Maine, and the season was mostly November-December. Eighty-five deer were shot and handled under either legal hunting or poaching conditions, and the carcasses were observed during periods of 2-13 days. Four easily measured postmortem characteristics indicated time since death more consistently than others requiring use of specialized instruments or laboratory procedures. Reference data on carcass temperatures, eye appearances, pupil diameter, and rigor-mortis patterns are presented. Maine game wardens made a preliminary test of the methods and found them useful.

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