Census counts are periodic surveys and inventories to determine the number, composition or other relevant information about a wildlife population to measure if the current wildlife management practices are serving the targeted species.
Such surveys also help evaluate the management plan’s goals and practices. Specifically, this activity estimates species numbers, annual population trends, density or age structure using accepted survey techniques. Annual results should be recorded as evidence of completing this practice. The survey techniques and intensity listed below should be appropriate to the species counted:
- spotlight counting
- aerial counts
- daylight wildlife composition counts
- harvest data collection and record keeping
- browse utilization surveys
- census and monitoring endangered, threatened or protected wildlife
- census and monitoring of nongame wildlife species
Spotlight counting animals, typically white-tailed deer, at night along a predetermined route using a spotlight should follow accepted methodology, with a minimum of three counts conducted annually.
Aerial counts for white-tailed deer and other ungulates using a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter to survey animals also should follow accepted methodology for the region and be performed by a trained individual.
Daylight wildlife composition counts are driving counts used to census wildlife in daylight hours. Annual population trends on dove, quail, turkey and deer, as well as sex/age structure on deer, should be determined by sightings along a standardized transect of a minimum of five miles at least three times during a season.
Harvest data collection/record keeping means tracking annual production of wildlife, usually white-tailed deer. Age, weight and antler development from harvested deer, and the age and sex information from game birds and waterfowl should be obtained annually.
Browse utilization surveys annually examine deer browse plant species for evidence of deer use on each major vegetative site on the property. The surveys should be conducted in a way that can be repeated.
Census and monitoring of endangered, threatened or protected wildlife through periodic counts can improve management and increase knowledge of the local, regional or state status of the species.
Census and monitoring of nongame wildlife species also can improve management or increase knowledge of the local, regional or state status of the species. These practices can include developing checklists of wildlife diversity on the property and should be a part of a comprehensive wildlife management plan.