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Estimating sex-ratio, survival, and harvest susceptibility in greater sage-grouse: making the most of hunter harvests
We analyzed banding (3259) and recovery (six 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 (juvenile) 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 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.