Effect of Roads and Traffic on Deer Movements in a Georgia Park

Effects of traffic volume on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) movement patterns and behavior have not been well documented. During summer 2004, we monitored survival and home ranges of 34 radiocollared deer (6 males and 28 females) in a heavily visited state park in Georgia to determine effect of road distribution on home range use. We also monitored hourly movements for eight females in relation to daily patterns of vehicle volume within the park. Although deer behavior was altered by frequent exposure to traffic and roadside feeding of deer by park visitors, no deer were killed by vehicles during the study. Deer did not selectively use habitats within their home ranges based on proximity of nearest roads. We found no differences (P > 0.05) in deer distances from nearest roads during any 24-hr period. Mean rate of travel for the eight females increased (P < 0.001) when mean traffic volume within the park increased (1400−2000 hours) and decreased when traffic volume decreased (2000−0200 and 0200−0800 hours), suggesting park vehicles had a disruptive effect on deer movements.

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