• Estimating moose population parameters from aerial surveys

      Gasaway, William C.; DuBois, Stephen D.; Reed, Daniel J.; Harbo, Samuel J. (University of Alaska. Institute of Arctic Biology, 1986-12)
      Successful moose management depends on knowledge of population dynamics. The principal parameters required are size, rate of change, recruitment, sex composition, and mortality. Moose management in Alaska has been severely hampered by the lack of good estimates of these parameters, and unfortunately, this lack contributed to the decline of many Alaskan moose populations during the 1970s (e.g., Gasaway et al. 1983). The problems were: (1) population size not adequately estimated, (2) rapid rates of decline not acknowledged until populations were low, (3) meaningful recruitment rates were not available in the absence of good population estimates, and (4) calf and adult mortality rates were grossly underestimated. Frustration of moose managers working with inadequate data led to development of aerial survey procedures that yield minimally biased, sufficiently precise estimates of population parameters for most Alaskan moose management and research. This manual describes these procedures. Development of these procedures would have been impossible without the inspiration, support, advice, and criticism of many colleagues. We thank these colleagues for their contributions. Dale Haggstrom and Dave Kelleyhouse helped develop flight patterns, tested and improved early sampling designs, and as moose managers, put these procedures into routine use. Pilots Bill Lentsch and Pete Haggland were instrumental in developing and testing aerial surveying techniques. Their interest and dedication to improving moose management made them valuable allies. Statisticians Dana Thomas of the University of Alaska and W. Scott Overton of Oregon State University provided advice on variance approximations for the population estimator. Warren Ballard, Sterling Miller, SuzAnne Miller, Doug Larsen, and Wayne Kale tested procedures and provided valuable criticisms and suggestions. Jim Raymond initially programmed a portable calculator to make lengthy calculation simple, fast, and error-free. Angie Babcock, Lisa Ingalls, Vicky Leffingwell, and Laura McManus patiently typed several versions of this manual. John Coady and Oliver Burris provided continuous moral and financial support for a 3-year project that lasted 6 years. Joan Barnett, Rodney Boetje, Steven Peterson, and Wayne Regelin of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game provided helpful editorial suggestions in previous drafts. Finally, we thank referees David Anderson of the Utah Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, Vincent Schultz of Washington State University, and James Peek, E. "Oz" Garton, and Mike Samuel of the University of Idaho whose comments and suggestions improved this manual. This project was funded by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Projects W-17-9 through W-22-1.