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Maximum Sustained Yield Harvest versus Trophy Management

Jonathan A. Jenks, Winston P. Smith and Christopher S. DePerno
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 528-535
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3803186
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3803186
Page Count: 8
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Maximum Sustained Yield Harvest versus Trophy Management
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Abstract

We examined hypotheses regarding compatibility of managing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations for trophy males (i.e., ≥8 points) and maximum sustained yield (MSY) harvests. Harvest of white-tailed deer on Oak Ridge Reservation, Tennessee, USA, began in 1985 following 45 years of protection. We examined several harvest characteristics (e.g., age and sex composition, antler and body size of males) under the assumption that the population had attained an equilibrium during this period and hunter bias toward males was constant across years. During 1985, 273 deer were killed by vehicles on the reservation; by 1994, mortality from vehicles declined to 143 deer. During the study period, annual harvest declined from 923 to 470 deer. We suspect that although the population had attained an equilibrium, it was likely below ecological carrying capacity (K) because of substantial vehicle mortality. Because of the absence of predators and other sources of natural mortality, we assumed that deer-vehicle collisions prior to hunting was the primary factor maintaining the population below K. After the initiation of hunting in 1985, several demographic parameters indicated the population was intensively harvested: 98% of the harvest was composed of males <4 years of age, deer-vehicle mortality was reduced by 50%, and modeling indicated that the population had stabilized at 61% of the prehunt population. Average age of trophy males declined following harvest. Body size of 1.5-year-old males increased following the initial hunt but became variable over the remaining period. Proportion of trophy males harvested declined from 36% to 15% throughout the study period. Following the initial harvest, the high proportion of yearling males harvested suggests that the age distribution of males became truncated. Results from our empirical example support the hypothesis that sustained production of trophy males is a consequence of MSY of either-sex harvests when males are considered trophy with ≥8 points, when annual recruitment at MSY consistently approaches unity, and when hunters show no selectivity bias. These constraints are unlikely under current management prescriptions.

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