Deer Program Overview and Research Projects

Overview

The Louisiana deer program is administered through two statewide deer program biologists. One is working from Baton Rouge and the other from Pineville.  The program is delivered by the Office of Wildlife and implemented through several regional offices where wildlife biologists and technicians perform year round research and management activities on public and private lands.  For hunting season purposes, the state presently is divided into 10 deer management areas (DMAs).

Seasons are set according to general breeding periods, habitats, weapons, and hunting methods.  Louisiana has a statewide limit of 6 deer per year.  Hunters are issued 2 antlered, 3 antlerless and 1 either sex tag for the season.  Antlerless deer may be taken during the entire season in DMAs 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8.  Either sex (doe days) apply in DMAs 4, 5, 7, 9, and 10. All deer must be tagged prior to being moved from the harvest site.  All deer must be reported through the phone or internet system, a WMA worker, or through the DMAP program.  This harvest information will be used during development of future seasons and limits. 

 Research Projects

Herd Health Collections

The Department continues to improve the breeding period data base across the state by performing spring collections of pregnant females where data is lacking or outdated.  Fetal measurements give fairly precise estimates of the breeding date for that particular female.  The number of fetuses per female gives a productivity estimate for a particular site, and inferences may be made for a larger area.  Other biological data such as kidney fat, weight, and presence of liver flukes are gathered.  Blood samples are taken and analyzed for hemorrhagic disease (HD), or other blood borne pathogens.   Brain stems are collected for chronic wasting disease (CWD) monitoring.  Periodically, rumens are analyzed for browse content.  All meat is donated to parish food banks, charitable organizations or families in need.  Several parishes in Louisiana have 2 or more breeding periods, primarily due to the stocking of deer where the breeding periods differed from native deer.   In the early breeding areas, biological samples are taken from hunter harvested deer. All samples are added to individual parish breeding data bases.

Browse and Habitat Surveys

Each year biologists walk transects or perform cursory habitat surveys and appraisals to monitor habitat and environmental conditions across the state.  This work is primarily performed on state owned WMAs and private lands.  However, assistance and cooperative work efforts occur on the Kisatchie National Forest and on several National Wildlife Refuges. Deer productivity and quality are driven by landscape conditions.  Environmental variables such as soil type, temperature, rainfall (timing and amount), and mast crops are important limiting or contributing factors.  Habitat conditions are determined by environmental variables, proximity to agriculture, forestry and other management practices, and deer density.

Publications

Bottomland hardwood telemetry study

North Louisiana telemetry study

Louisiana browse and habitat study

Barksdale deer study

 

Ongoing projects

Pass a Loutre WMA Project

Coastal marsh deer resources and habitats are important in Louisiana.  To gain information on deer movement, hunting mortality, and habitat use in a fresh marsh, biologists and technicians at Pass a Loutre have captured and marked 56 deer in a long term mark and recapture study.   Known aged deer (6 months and 1.5s) are especially targeted to provide information on the accuracy of marsh deer aging techniques.  A publication is being written at present.

Exclosures

One acre exclosures have been erected at Sherburne and Buckhorn WMAs to study the long term effects of deer browsing on plant communities and forest succession.  Initial sampling of the Buckhorn exclosure was completed this year.  Herbaceous and woody plants species composition and percent cover are among the base line data currently being evaluated.

Tensas River NWR telemetry study

This multi faceted 3-year study is documenting survival and causes of mortality of white-tailed deer fawns, fawning habitat selection, and home range and core areas of adult bucks primarily.  Does are captured and fitted with VHF collars and vaginal implants.  Fawns are captured at birth and fitted with small collars to be monitored for survival.  Bucks have been fitted with GPS collars to record fine and large scale movements. 

Deer Vehicle Collisions

State Farm Insurance Company annually projects the number of deer/vehicle collisions for the industry based on the number of comprehensive and collision claims.