Census Counts – Surveys
Census counts are periodic surveys and inventories to determine the number, composition or other relevant information about a wildlife population to measure if the current wildlife management practices are serving the targeted species. Such surveys also help evaluate the landowner’s management goals and practices. Specifically, wildlife surveys estimate species numbers, annual population trends, density or age structure using accepted survey techniques. Annual results should be recorded as evidence of completing this practice. Surveys for white-tailed deer are different than the methods appropriate for songbird species, which are different than those for bobwhite quail, for example.
The wildlife survey techniques and intensity listed below should be appropriate to the species counted:
- Spotlight counts
- Aerial counts
- Daylight wildlife composition counts
- Harvest data collection and record keeping
- Browse utilization surveys
- Census and monitoring endangered, threatened or protected wildlife
- Census and monitoring of non-game wildlife species
Wildlife Surveys for the Wildlife Tax Valuation
Spotlight counts consists of quantifying animals at night along a predetermined route using a spotlight should follow accepted methodology, with a minimum of three counts conducted annually for white-tailed deer management. Aerial surveys are also conducted for deer and require using a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter to count animals also should follow accepted methodology for the region and be performed by a trained individual.
Daylight wildlife composition counts are driving counts used to census wildlife in daylight hours. Annual population trends on dove, quail, turkey and deer, as well as sex/age structure on deer, should be determined by sightings along a standardized transect of a minimum of five miles at least three times during a season. Harvest data collection/record-keeping means tracking the annual production of wildlife. Age, weight and antler development from harvested deer, and the age and sex information from game birds and waterfowl should be obtained annually.
Browse utilization surveys annually examine deer browse plant species for evidence of deer use on each major vegetative site on the property. The surveys should be conducted in a way that can be repeated. Often times, points can be marked with flagging or t-post and GPS points saved so that areas can be repeated sampled to track trend information.
Census and monitoring of endangered, threatened or protected wildlife through periodic counts can improve management and increase knowledge of the local, regional or state status of the species. Census and monitoring of nongame wildlife species also can improve management or increase knowledge of the local, regional or state status of the species. These practices can include developing checklists of wildlife diversity on the property and should be a part of a comprehensive wildlife management plan.