Volume 44, Issue 6 (November 1999)
Estimating Time of Death of Deer in Missouri; A Comparison of Three Indicators
Estimation of time of death (TOD) of white-tailed deer is important to wildlife law enforcement officers. The purpose of this study was to develop and test a model for estimating TOD of white-tailed deer in Missouri. We compare the utility of carcass temperature, pupil diameter, and rigor mortis as TOD indicators. The effects of body size, ambient temperature, and various carcass handling methods on the estimate were also examined. Data were collected from 1484 deer during the 1995–96 and 1996–97 hunting seasons. Stepwise regression indicated that all three indicators were significant and that body size and ambient temperature could influence the model. Predictive equations were developed for various combinations of the indicators based on practicality and statistical probabilities. TOD was estimated for 28 animals where the exact TOD was known. There was no significant difference between the estimated and known TOD (p = 0.759) and the average of the absolute differences is 1 h and 28 min.