Home Range of Male White-tailed Deer in Hunted and Non-hunted Populations

In many areas, hunting season coincides with rut, and movements associated with breeding activities may confound interpretation of hunting-related deer movements. This study provided an opportunity to evaluate the respective influences of separate rut and hunting seasons on home range sizes of adult male deer. Home ranges of 54 radio-collared male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were compared between Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP; hunted) and Everglades National Park (ENP; non-hunted), Florida, during 1989-1991. Annual home range size of males was larger (P = 0.001) in BCNP (7.0 km2) than in ENP (2.9 km2) and exceeded those reported for other non-migratory populations. Home ranges of adult males in BCNP were larger (P < 0.05) than those in ENP for 2 6- month hydrological and 4 3-month biological seasons. Impact of hunting season disturbances on home range sizes of BCNP deer was minor, and home ranges were similar (1990, P = 0.85; 1991, P = 0.77) among biological seasons within years. Home range sizes of deer in ENP were largest during rut and smallest during hunting and posthunting seasons. High water levels, which coincided with rut, did not appear to limit movements of males. Adult males in BCNP did not move to ENP to avoid hunting activities. Mean harvest rate in BCNP was 53%, including 67% in 1991, the wettest year of the study. High harvest rates during wet years may diminish herd productivity in subsequent years.

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