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You are here: Home Partner Projects Spotlight on National Park Resources Camera Trap Survey to Assess White-tailed Deer Population at Catoctin Mountain Park, 2015

Camera Trap Survey to Assess White-tailed Deer Population at Catoctin Mountain Park, 2015

Lindsey Donaldson - Biologist, Laurel Downs - Student Conservation Assosication NPS, Catoctin Mountain Park

Many protected areas in the eastern US struggle  with the issue of deer overabundance due to the lack of authorized hunting and the absence of natural predators such as wolves and mountain lions. Subsequent prob lems arise including habitat degradation, poor herd health, and increased negative  human-wildlife interactions such as car accidents. Catoctin Mountain Park completed a deer management plan in 2009 incorporating a direct reduction strategy to resolve the white-tailed deer overabundance issue and have since seen positive  results.  Each year the population is monitored using spotlight surveys and Program Distance. In 2015, we implemented an additional eight week long, un-baited camera trap survey. Thirty-nine cameras (1/149acres) operated from mid-July through mid- September. Findings indicated that the park’s deer population was approximately 21 deer/mi2. We plan to compare these results  with those provided by Program Distance to determine if this method of population monitoring will be considered in future years.

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