Seasonal Variation in Resource Selection of Juvenile Male White-Tailed Deer

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University of Delaware
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have a significant impact on their habitat. Their populations have rapidly expanded in recent years due to increased accessibility to food resources. They are an important component of the ecosystems they inhabit, and are also a valuable part of human recreational activities, particularly hunting. Due to their large numbers, deer are causing significant losses in agricultural crops. Their role as both a predominant herbivore in the landscape and a prevalent aspect of human recreation makes them a crucial facet of modern wildlife management. When making management decisions, it is important to have information on the basic ecological processes of a species. Age class as well as gender can influence different behaviors in any species, therefore studying different demographic categories is necessary to gain a complete perspective of the ecology of a species. We studied the resource selection of six juvenile white-tailed bucks in an agricultural environment over the course of one year to determine which types of habitat the deer used during different seasons. We saw a trend towards using agricultural crop lands more than it was available during the growing season and a shift to forested and human-developed areas during the winter, however our small sample size makes the significance of those trends questionable.
Wildlife Conservation