Monday, August 3, 2009 - 4:20 PM

COS 10-9: Influence of landscape composition, deer density, and deer harvest  on home-ranges of white-tailed deer in a chronic wasting disease area

Seth B. Magle1, Lesa Kardash2, Anne Oyer1, Jeromy Chamberlin1, and Nancy Mathews3. (1) University of Wisconsin, (2) University of Wisconsin- Madison, (3) University of Wisconsin-Madison


Home ranges of deer (Odocoileus spp.) are the result of individual movement, social interactions, and behavioral responses to habitat characteristics.  While there is substantial evidence that home range size is influenced by factors such as sex, age, body weight, and season, the influence of deer density, harvest, and landscape patterns are not as well understood.  We examined individual white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) seasonal home range areas in relation to local deer density, deer harvest intensity, and forested landscape pattern (forest edge density and the ratio of agriculture to forest) in a population managed for control of chronic wasting disease in south-central Wisconsin


The ratio of agriculture to forest was strongly positively related to home range area for most age and sex classes, and forest edge density was inversely related to home range area for adult females.  Individual home range area was largely independent of deer density, and harvest intensity.  It is likely that socio-spatial factors (i.e. fidelity) and availability of food and cover resources influence home range size more strongly than hunting pressure or density reductions. This further suggests that localized deer reductions may create areas of low deer density without changing behavior patterns of surrounding deer.  Our findings provide insights into potential future management strategies that allow for a more refined spatial approach to reducing deer densities in areas where chronic wasting disease is present.