Effects of Controlled Dog Hunting on Movements of Female White-tailed Deer

Understanding the responses of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to controlled dog hunting can aid in the effective implementation of canine-assisted population management strategies. We examined the 24-h diel movements of 13 radio-collared female deer exposed to dog hunting on the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina, where regulated dog hunting has occurred since 1965. We compared diel home range size, rate of travel, and distance between extreme diel locations before, during, and after hunts from 14 September-14 December 2002. Diel home range size (F2,91 = 7.71, P < 0.001) and distance between extreme diel locations (F2,91 = 6.78, P = 0.002) on hunt day were greater than 10-day pre- and post-hunt periods. There was no difference between pre-and post-hunt diel home range size (F2,91 = 7.71, P = 0.999) and distance between extreme diel locations (F2,91 = 6.78, P = 0.704). Rate of travel (F2,91 = 2.74, P = 0.070) did not differ among the pre-, hunt day, and post-hunt periods. In 8 of 15 monitoring periods of individual deer during hunts, deer moved outside the periphery of their fall home range. The mean distance deer moved outside of their fall home range boundary was 0.8 km (SE = 0.2 km) and all returned within 13 hours. Our data suggest short-term, controlled dog hunting has little long-term effect on adult, female white-tailed deer movement on the SRS. Because deer did not leave the hunt area, the effectiveness of such hunts may be increased by extending their duration.

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