Research projects

Update on research projects on game fauna

Restoring game, such as white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and wood ducks, is one of the most famous achievements of modern wildlife management. The return of these iconic species has been the result of several factors – support from hunters / conservators, dedicated funding, creation of wildlife protection agencies, habitat conservation and introduction of game laws. Wildlife research has also played a central role in these conservation successes. And research continues to be the foundation of science-based wildlife management today. Through research, biologists have improved their understanding of the ecology of wildlife. However, it is essential that we continue to collect and analyze data due to changing landscapes, hunter preferences and wildlife populations. Another reason to continue to invest in research is the possibility of incorporating technological improvements, such as the advent of GPS satellite transmitters, which can provide new and important information beyond what was available when the technologies older ones were used.

Ensuring we have the best information available – versus observations not supported by measurable data – is vital for wildlife managers when making decisions about season lengths, bag limits and more. Research results and hunter preferences are key factors that support the goal of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Hunting and Game Management Division of providing all-round hunting opportunities. by meeting conservation objectives and maintaining populations at acceptable levels.

HGM biologists work with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, universities and other partners on research projects designed to increase knowledge that address specific management issues and improve conservation practices. HGM is currently participating in the cutting edge research efforts described below.

North Florida Deer Study

The FWC’s North Florida Deer Study, which began in 2020, examines the dynamics of white-tailed deer populations in north-central Florida. Now in its second year, biologists are using advanced strategies and equipment, such as GPS collars and surveillance cameras, to collect data on deer survival, home ranges, and movements. This 5-year study was initiated at the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station, a 9,500 acre area in Putnam County. In cooperation with the Deer Lab at the University of Florida, this study will be extended in 2022 to include the Osceola Wildlife Management Area, a public recreation area in Columbia and Baker counties. Extending this study to a second site will allow biologists to assess the impact of human activity on deer survival, seasonal and annual movements, and the use of various habitat types.

This study will provide biologists with information on how factors such as home range, movements, causes of mortality and recruitment rates vary across habitats, management practices and hunting regulations.

Regional study on wood duck

Florida is one of eight states participating in a multi-year study to assess and improve the effectiveness of wood duck nesting boxes as a tool to increase local wood duck populations. Research teams equipped the hens and ducklings with rings and web tags so they could identify individual hens and their offspring to determine how many return to the same breeding population from which they were born. The project also examines why wood ducks choose their nesting boxes and how to improve nesting box placement and structure.

Snipe study

HGM is working with FWC’s FWRI to better understand population characteristics of Wilson’s Snipe, a migratory game bird that winters in Florida. This study identifies the breeding regions of snipe harvested in Florida by analyzing the chemical properties of feathers harvested from harvested birds. The study will then examine questions to determine whether breeding regions or timing of migration influences where birds winter in the state. Answers to these questions will inform future conservation efforts by the FWC and others to further study breeding areas, ensuring sustainable populations for hunters of Florida migratory game birds.

Snipe hunters can support this research project by submitting the first snipe right wing primary feather collected in Florida with the snipe harvest form. The quill and form can be mailed or dropped off at TM Goodwin, c / o Mark McBride, 3200 TM Goodwin Road, Fellsmere, FL 32948. Snipe season runs until February 15 on lands outside the WMA system. The snipe harvest form and more information are available at MyFWC.com/Duck.

Woodcock study

The woodcock, another migratory game bird that winters in Florida, is the subject of an award-winning research project conducted by the University of Maine. HGM and FWRI are partnering with the university to document migration patterns and habitat use, and to identify likely candidates for woodcock habitat management. Researchers and university partners have equipped more than 400 woodcock with satellite transmitters in 14 states and three Canadian provinces, enabling them to receive daily information on their migration routes and stopovers to the south, and reverse migration routes to the northern breeding grounds. It is important to expand our knowledge of this popular game bird, as the species has experienced population declines over the past five decades and little is known about the migration of woodcock.

CC monitoring programs

Hunters have long been important partners in wildlife management, providing the FWC with valuable information about what is happening in the most remote areas of the state. You can continue this tradition of conservation by participating in the following FWC monitoring programs:

Wild turkey

From June 1 to August 31 of each year, the FWC asks everyone to report sightings of wild turkeys. This annual summer wild turkey survey is part of a larger regional study designed to better understand the reproduction, distribution and abundance of wild turkeys. Learn more at MyFWC.com/Turkey.

Bobwhite quail

Quail is another species that FWC biologists watch out for and you can support this effort by reporting sightings and even birds that call but are not seen. Reporting your quail sightings will help FWC biologists better understand the current distribution and abundance of Bobwhite quail populations in Florida. Find the link to report quail sightings at MyFWC.com/Hunting/Quail.

White-tailed deer and CWD surveillance

The chronic wasting disease, which was not detected in Florida, damages the brain and central nervous system of affected members of the deer family and is still fatal. CWD has been detected in 27 states and four Canadian provinces and is one of the most serious diseases facing state wildlife agencies. It is a contagious disease and once introduced into an area it can spread and drastically reduce the populations of infected deer. There is no vaccine, no cure, and it is virtually impossible to eliminate once it has been established.

The FWC takes a proactive approach to reduce the risk of CWD spreading in Florida or throughout Florida. Prevention and early detection through Florida deer monitoring is crucial. The FWC asks anyone who sees a sick, abnormally thin deer, or finds a dead deer of unknown cause to call the CWD toll-free helpline, 866-CWD-WATCH (866-293-9282) to report the location. of the animal. Learn more at MyFWC.com/CWD.