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Improving daytime detection of deer for surveillance and management

Logan, Thomas W.; Ashton-Butt, Adham; Ward, Alastair I.


Thomas W. Logan

Adham Ashton-Butt

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Dr Alastair Ward
Head of Department, Biological and Marine Sciences


Maximising the detection of a target species reduces the uncertainty of survey results and can improve management outcomes. Deer (Cervidae) populations are managed worldwide due to their impacts on anthropocentric interests. In the UK, deer can only lawfully be shot during the daytime, from 1h before sunrise to 1h after sunset, when deer activity is at its lowest. We evaluated performance of a thermal imager relative to binoculars for their ability to detect deer during the daytime and at twilight (1h either side of dawn and dusk). Transect surveys on Thorne Moors, UK, revealed that more roe and red deer were observed using a thermal imager than when using binoculars. More deer in much larger groups were observed at twilight than during the other daylight hours. Variation in animal detectability at different times of the day must be considered during wildlife surveys if their outputs are to be as accurate and precise as possible. The results support the continued focus of deer culling efforts during the hours of twilight. They also highlight the potential utility of thermal imagers for maximising detection probability at twilight.


Logan, T. W., Ashton-Butt, A., & Ward, A. I. (2019). Improving daytime detection of deer for surveillance and management. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 65(6),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 22, 2019
Online Publication Date Oct 14, 2019
Publication Date 2019-12
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 15, 2020
Journal European Journal of Wildlife Research
Print ISSN 1612-4642
Electronic ISSN 1439-0574
Publisher Springer (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 65
Issue 6
Article Number 83
Keywords Cervus elaphus; Capreolus capreolus; Binoculars; Detection; Survey; Thermal imager
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Additional Information Received: 1 April 2019; Revised: 29 July 2019; Accepted: 26 August 2019; First Online: 14 October 2019; : All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Hull. Ethical Review reference U151.


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© The Author(s) 2019
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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