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Indiana Deer Management & Reports

2017-2022 Deer Management Goal

In May 2017, DNR and stakeholders reviewed the 2012-2017 deer management goal analyses. As a result of that review, DNR adopted a new five-year management goal to “focus deer herd management in a strategically targeted manner to more adequately balance ecological, recreational, and economic needs of the citizens of Indiana.” This would allow DNR the ability to examine each county or similar areas independently to determine the desired direction of the deer herd size.

With this goal in mind, DNR will seek to develop indices that are more sensitive to change in the deer population, obtain data on the opinions of more groups that have an interest in deer management, and develop an objective model to set harvest quotas. Specifically, DNR will work to better incorporate the desires of all Indiana residents by expanding surveys beyond farming landowners and hunters. All stakeholders present in May 2017 agreed to the adoption of this plan.

Since 2017, DNR began working with faculty at Purdue University to identify deer population indices that could be applied on larger scales throughout Indiana to better monitor trends in deer populations in a cost-effective manner. These indices must also provide an accurate representation of the population for the given cost. In addition to measuring the biological aspects of the deer population, the comprehensive research effort will also examine sociological factors, such as if/how stakeholder opinions change relative to known deer density and ecological factors such as habitat quality response to density. The goal of this collaboration is to develop an integrated model that will incorporate the biological, ecological, and sociological factors to improve Indiana’s deer management program.

As part of the newly adopted five-year (2017-2022) plan, DNR will meet with representatives from stakeholder groups and citizens in 2022 to review the effectiveness of the current deer management plan and to make recommendations for changes, if needed.

Annual Deer Management Survey

The Deer Research Program has developed an online survey that will allow the DNR to survey all hunters and non-hunters with internet access on a yearly basis to help monitor observed trends in deer populations and to assess desires for deer management.  Any individual with a DNR account can provide input on a regular basis. Customers who purchase licenses will receive an invitation to complete surveys in their email. However, hunters who use a landowner exemption or have a lifetime license should make a special effort to create an online account with the DNR to ensure they receive surveys.

Any Indiana residents or hunters hunting on various exemptions who would like to receive a survey should visit the Indiana Fish and Wildlife Online Services page at https://www.in.gov/apps/dnr/portal/#/home and ensure their contact information is correct, including email address, or open an account if one does not already exist.

After-Hunt Survey

The After-Hunt Survey is used to collect both biological data about deer and sociological data about deer hunters.  Hunters fill out the survey immediately after harvesting and checking in their deer.  Hunters provide information about the number of deer observed, how many deer were observed but not shot, and their opinion about the number and quality of deer observed. Hunters also provide specific information about their deer, including the location where it was harvested, age, lactation, and antler characteristics, as well as opinion data about the hunting experience.  This partnership between DNR and Indiana’s hunters will be beneficial because it will provide DNR with large amounts of data to more accurately manage the deer herd, and it will help hunters better understand  the deer herd where they hunt.

Reports