Aerial surveys can provide direct density estimates for ungulates over large areas such as hunting zones, a prerequisite for intensive management. In 1991 Québec implemented double-count aerial surveys as part of its white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management program, on a hunting-zone basis. This technique involves 2 independent observers located on the same side of an aircraft who simultaneously count animals in sample plots. Two 5-year survey plans have been successfully completed for the whole province. Deer densities for most zones could be estimated with a ±20% CI (P = 0.90), while the survey provided less precise evaluations for subunits or individual wintering areas. A typical survey for a hunting zone with 200 plots (5 km × 60 m) required approximately 30–40 helicopter hours and cost $43,000 Canadian, including salaries and travel expenses. The technique offers great potential for a variety of landscapes as part of deer management programs.
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