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Title:Ring-necked Pheasant and hunter interactions
Author(s):Swenson, Eric C
Advisor(s):Ward, Michael P.
Contributor(s):Benson, Thomas J.; Miller, Craig; Schooley, Robert
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):ring-necked pheasant
spatial ecology
human dimensions
Abstract:Hunting has been declining as a pastime throughout the United States for decades. If this trend persists, it could have serious implications for the continuation of some wildlife agency programs that depend on hunters for political, financial, or harvest related support. In response, agencies have attempted to reverse this trend by focusing on providing quality hunting opportunities. However, there is little information examining the many factors (e.g., hunter experience, hunter space use, animal behavior) and interactions leading to hunter success and satisfaction. To improve the quality of hunting opportunities, the factors leading to hunter success (harvesting a game species) must be identified and understood. I investigated the behavior of both Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) and hunters at two Pheasant Habitat Areas in central Illinois, which are owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide pheasant hunting opportunities and conserve grassland wildlife. To assess the behavior of pheasants, I radio-tagged male and female pheasants and established an Automated Radio Telemetry System on each site, which allowed for frequent tracking (every 3-5 min) of radio-tagged pheasants. To assess the behavior of hunters, they carried GPS units during their hunt and completed a pre- and post-hunt intercept survey. I also established a system of autonomous microphone recorders on the sites to identify gunshots. Hunters were generally satisfied with their hunt, and the number of pheasants harvested was positively correlated with satisfaction. Seven factors were identified leading to hunter success: previous site experience, time spent hunting, party size, number of dogs, day of the year, precipitation, and wind speed. There was also a difference in space use between experienced and inexperienced parties, with experienced hunters being more likely to be in areas with radio-tagged pheasants, this may explain some of the variation in harvest. The probability of a hunter encountering a pheasant remained approximately constant throughout the day, whereas the probability of a pheasant encountering a hunter increased throughout the day as pheasant activity increased (movements per hour). The number of gunshots increased hourly during the early morning, suggesting the increase in pheasant activity is leading to an increased detection of pheasants by hunters. However, after 10:00 AM the number of shots fell with decreasing hunter effort. Hunting provides critical resources for habitat acquisition and management, and while hunters at the two study areas were generally satisfied, there are several factors that could improve hunting. To improve their probability of harvesting pheasants, hunters should consider hunting in larger parties with experienced hunters and dogs. Finally, pheasant became more active as the day progressed thus hunting later in the day should also increase the probability of harvesting pheasants.
Issue Date:2016-04-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Eric Swenson
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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