Spatial Distributions of Adult Male White-Tailed Deer Relative to Supplemental Feed Sites

Stephen L. Webb, David G. Hewitt, Dean D. Marquardt, Mickey W. Hellickson

Abstract


Nutrient intake of deer in south Texas is lowest in late summer and winter; therefore, supplemental food may be provided during these times by managers. When natural food resources become scarce, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus

virginianus) may shift home ranges or core areas to incorporate supplemental food sources. Thus, supplemental food sources may influence daily movements and home range characteristics of deer. To examine how deer were distributed relative to supplemental feed sites, 48 adult male white-tailed deer were radio collared and tracked from October 2002 to August 2004. The average density of supplemental feeders within deer home ranges was 47% lower in year 1 and 18% lower in year 2, than the density of feeders in the study area (>0.19 supplemental feeders/mile²). Home ranges of deer with feed (n = 17, 635.6 ± 64.5 acres) were larger (t25 = 3.44, P = 0.002) than deer home ranges without feed (n = 14, 379.8 ± 37.1 acres). In both years, there was no difference among seasons in the distance between deer locations and supplemental feeders (P ≥ 0.495).  Furthermore, there was no difference (P ≥ 0.667) between the distances deer were found from supplemental feeders compared to the distance random points were from supplemental feeders during years 1 and 2. These data demonstrated that supplemental feeders had little effect on deer spatial dynamics. Therefore, it appears that other habitat components may have had a stronger influence on deer movements than supplemental protein feeders alone. Our results will help wildlife managers determine how many supplemental feeders to install based on average density and distances deer were located to these resources during times of above average rainfall.


Keywords


home range; movements; Odocoileus virginaianus; protein; supplemental feeders; white-tailed deer

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