Date of Award
Master of Science
AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF MARION F. CONLEE III, for the Master of Science degree in ZOOLOGY, presented on AUGUST 8, 2008, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: IMPACTS OF ILLINOIS OUTFITTERS ON WHITE-TAILED DEER AND WILD TURKEY POPULATIONS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Clayton K. Nielsen Midwestern states have little public land available for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hunting and access to private land is critical for maintaining healthy wildlife populations through recreational hunting. Between 1980 and 2001 trophy deer harvest in the Midwest increased and created a market for deer and turkey outfitters. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) noticed outfitting operations increased and created policy to understand outfitter management practices; however these data have not been formally analyzed. I sent 2 mail-in surveys to assess attitudes and business practices of Illinois outfitters and residents from Pike and Adams counties. For Pike County outfitters, I calculated hunter density, success rates, harvest intensity, and outfitter ability to predict hunter and harvest numbers. Outfitters indicated most of their clients were non-resident hunters, 30% of outfitters did not offer firearm deer hunts, and the deer sex ratio was skewed towards females on outfitter property. Many survey respondents who hunted in west-central Illinois lost access to property because of outfitters, which caused some hunters to quit hunting. Hunters on outfitter property did not harvest as many deer as expected at the county level. Increasing trends of deer and turkey outfitters in Illinois suggests that the IDNR should monitor outfitter activities so that management can be altered if necessary.
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