Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Major Professor

Michael R. Pelton

Committee Members

Ralph W. Dimmick, Boyd L. Dearden, James L. Byford


This study was conducted on 6,340 ha (15,666 acres) in the western section of the Energy Research and Development Administration's Oak Ridge, Tennessee Reservation. The objectives were to determine the density and distribution of whitetailed deer. Techniques for determining density included: (1) pellet group surveys, (2) night-lighting counts, (3) roadside counts, (4) radioactive feces tagging, and (5) mark-reobservation. Distribution was determined by using (1) five years of road-kill data, (2) night observa-tions, and (3) pellet group locations on transects. Concurrent studies testing the techniques of pellet group surveys and night-lighting counts along with a study of deterioration of pellet groups were conducted on the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area. An average of 6.57 pellet groups per hectare (2.66/acre) was recorded on the Reservation. The pellet group count was too low for a valid estimate of deer density. An average of 289 pellet groups per hectare (113/acre) was recorded on the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area resulting in a density estimate of one deer per 4.05 ha (10 acres). A mark-reobservation program was conducted from December 1974-September 1975 on Section A of the study area. Eighteen of 404 observations were of marked animals. Based upon the Schnabel method, a density estimate of one deer per 51 ha (125 acres) resulted. Night-lighting counts, with density estimates based upon the King method, were conducted on Section A of the study area from December 1974-September 1975. The average estimate was one deer per 114 ha (281 acres). Night-light counts conducted on the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area during July, August, and September 1975, yielded an average estimate of one deer per 7.83 ha (19.36 acres). This density estimate was 1.9 times lower than density estimates reported by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and previously mentioned pellet group surveys. Seven deer were radioactively tagged with Zn-65 from December 1974-September 1975. Thirty-two pellet groups were collected from Section A of the Reservation, three of which were radioactively tagged. Using the Lincoln Index, the density estimate was one deer per 47 ha (115 acres). Density estimates based upon radioactively tagged feces (Lincoln Index) and mark-reobservation (Schnabel's method) were believed to be more accurate than density estimates based upon night-light counts (King method). Sections of higher deer density observed on the study area were: (1) the 0800 Area, (2) Burial Ground Number Three, (3) Chestnut Ridge Gap on White Wing Road, (4) the old construction camp site southeast of K-25, (5) Bethel Valley from 7600 Area west to X-10, and (6) Bear Creek and White Wing Road intersection. Deterioration and/or disappearance of pellet groups marked in July 1975 on the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area was 5 percent during a one month period from July through August and 20 percent during a two month period from July thru September 1975. In comparison, 24 percent of the pellet groups marked in August were not found one month later in September 1975. Further study is necessary for a better understanding of pellet group deterioration and/or disappearance rates in the Southeast.

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