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Keywords:

  • age-at-harvest;
  • Martes americana;
  • population reconstruction

Abstract

Estimating the dynamics of furbearer populations is challenging because their elusive behavior and low densities make observations difficult. Statistical population reconstruction is a flexible approach to demographic assessment for harvested populations, but the technique has not been applied to furbearers. We extended this approach to furbearers and analyzed 8 yr of age-at-harvest data for American marten (Martes americana) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Marten abundance estimates showed a general downward trend from an estimate of equation image = 1,733.3 equation image animals in 2000 to equation image = 1,163.9 equation image in 2007. The harvest probability of martens increased nearly 5-fold from 0.0542 equation image in 2000 to 0.2637 equation image in 2007, which corresponded to a 5-fold increase in trap-nights. Continued monitoring of martens in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, and a reassessment of current harvest regulations are necessary given the estimated decreases. Moreover, we do not encourage the use of harvest indices as the sole technique to assess the status and trends of marten and fisher populations. Auxiliary studies in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, will allow for continued use and improvement in the application of these models. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.