Buderman, F. E., D. R. Diefenbach, C. S. Rosenberry, B. D. Wallingford, and E. S. Long. 2014. Effect of hunter selectivity on harvest rates of radio-collared white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania. Journal of Wildlife Management 78:1456-1465.
Radio transmitters are a commonly used tool for monitoring the fates of harvested species, although little research has been devoted to whether a visible radio transmitter changes a hunters' willingness to harvest that animal. We initially surveyed deer hunters to assess their willingness to harvest radio-collared deer and predicted radio collars were unlikely to affect the harvest of antlerless deer, but hunters may be less willing to harvest small-antlered males with radio collars compared to large-antlered males. We fitted white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with radio collars that were visible to hunters or with ear-tag transmitters or ear-tags that were difficult to detect visually and estimated if harvest rates differed among marking methods. For females, the best model failed to detect an effect of radio collars on harvest rates. Also, we failed to detect a difference between male deer fitted with radio collars and ear-tag transmitters. When we compared males fitted with radio collars versus ear tags, we found harvest rate patterns were opposite to our predictions, with lower harvest rates for adult males fitted with radio collars and higher harvest rates for yearling males fitted with radio collars. Our study suggests that harvest rate estimates generated from a sample of deer fitted with visible radio collars can be representative of the population of inference.