Effect of Dogs on Deer Reproduction in Virginia

Dogs were used to chase female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in a 2.04Q-acre enclosure at Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Dublin, Virginia, during late pregnancy from April to June 1972 (Phase I) and throughout pregnancy from October 1972 through May 1973 (Phase II) to determine the effect on reproduction. During Phase I, trained deer hounds were used to chase approximately 40 percent of the deer in the study area; the other 60 percent were used as a control. During Phase II, hounds and other dogs were used for chasing deer on the entire study area. All healthy deer easily escaped the chase dogs, but a badly deformed piebald fawn was caught. Neighborhood dogs apparently killed one additional young fawn during the study, but the problem is not serious because of the protective behavior of the does and the secretive nature of young fawns. No significant difference in fawns per doe surviving to late summer censuses was found between deer chased by dogs and those that were not. No permanent home range changes were noted as a result of dog chasing, but temporary changes of 1 or 2 days duration occurred. Dogs were not measurably detrimental to this enclosed, densely populated herd, either by limiting its reproduction, inducing permanent home range changes, or killing individual deer.

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