Effects of Agricultural Activities and Hunting on Home Ranges of Female White-Tailed Deer

  • Vercauteren K
  • Hygnstrom S
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Insight into the effects of agricultural activities and hunting on deer could be used to facilitate management. We examined home range characteristics of female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) relative to corn developn~ent, corn harvest, and hunting seasons from 1991 to 1993. Among 30 radiomarked does, 53% (n = 16) remained residents of DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR) throughout the study; 47% (n = 14) were transients. Among the transients, 30% (n = 9) permanently emigrated from DNWR and 17% (n = 5) migrated annually. Dispersal occured in April and May. Annual home ranges of resident does averaged 170 ha (CI = 38, n = 14).Home range centers shifted an average of 174 m (CI = 74, n = 14)closer to cornfields when corn was in the tasseling-silking stage of development. After corn harvest, home range centers shifted 157 m (CI = 63, n = 12) away from crop fields and into areas of permanent cover. Home range sizes increased 32% (944% CI) after corn harvest because does were forced to find and use other sources of cover and food. Resident does that caused local crop damage during the growing season were available for hunter harvest in the same areas where they caused damage. Migrators appeared especially vul- nerable because they were exposed to state firearm and archery seasons and the DNWR 3-day muzzleloader hunt. Of all tagged deer, 20% of transients (3 of 15) were harvested legally, whereas 40% of residents (8 of 20) were harvested. Harvest or removal to reduce crop damage around large areas of permanent cover should be conducted in early to mid-fall, which can reduce deer densities in the immediate area but not impose additional hunting pressure on migratory deer.

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  • Kurt C. Vercauteren

  • Scott E. Hygnstrom

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