Estimating sex-ratio, survival and harvest susceptibility in greater sage-grouse: making the most of hunter harvests

14 November 2017

Hagen, Christian; Sedinger, James ; Braun, Clait

We analyzed banding (3,259) and recovery (6 years) data from a hunted population of Greater-Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in northwestern Moffat County, Colorado to examine vulnerability to hunter harvests and annual survival of adult and hatch-year birds. Additionally, we combined the recovery data with hunter harvested wings and applied the Lincoln estimator to provide unbiased estimates of tertiary sex-ratio. Our results yielded the following findings, juveniles were harvested at twice the rate that of adults, but harvest vulnerability was similar between adult males and females. Annual survival of juveniles was highly variable but similar between sexes. Sex ratios of adults and juveniles largely conformed to previously assumed proportions despite having adjusted those estimates with harvest rates. We suggest there is potential to effectively model populations of game birds using a combination of band recovery and hunter harvested samples of species that can be readily captured, marked and have reasonable harvest rates.