White-tailed Deer Use of Clover Patches and Soybean Fields in an Agricultural Area

To effectively manage a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population in an agricultural area, information regarding habitat use and selection is needed to aid in reducing crop damage. We gathered data on deer use of clover (Trifolium repens) and soybean (Glycine max [L.]) fields at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland. We surveyed soybean and clover fields to test the hypothesis that deer distribute themselves proportionally to availability of soybeans and clover fields. Clover patch height and mass were also measured to quantify the amount of use by deer. Deer density in clover fields was always higher than in soybean fields in both years of the study (1997 and 1998). Browsing by deer significantly reduced clover patch height and mass. Our data suggested that active selection of crops by deer did not occur.

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