Space Use and Survival of Male White-tailed Deer in a Bottomland Hardwood Forest of

A basic understanding of White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are an important economic and recreational resource in population dynamics is essential to ensure sound management, but baseline information in Louisiana is lacking. Our objectives were to estimate space use, survival, and causes of mortality for a managed white-tailed deer population in southern Louisiana. We radio-marked 11 yearling (1.5 yr old) and 26 adult males (≥2.5 yr old) during 2007-2008. Home ranges (95%) for adult males during spring, summer, and fall were 153.9, 70.4, and 118.0 ha, respectively, and were 119% and 68% larger during spring and fall than summer. Yearling males used 169% larger home ranges during spring (231.6 ha) than summer (86.1 ha), and maintained 50% larger home ranges than adults in spring. Survival estimates for adult males during spring, summer, and fall were 100%, 95%, and 55%, respectively. Mean annual survival for adult males was 53%. No mortalities were observed in spring or summer for 1.5-yr-old males, but harvest records indicated 1.5-yr-old males were being harvested at a rate approaching 20% of the annual male harvest. Mean annual mortality rates for adult males from harvest (40%) were greater than for non-harvest sources of mortality (16%). Home ranges were smaller than previously reported; thus, we suggest that landowners managing small (<300 ha) landholdings may be able to improve herd dynamics in conjunction with protection of young males. Key words: bottomland hardwood forests, Louisiana, space use, survival, mortality, home range, core area, Odocoileus virginianus, management Proc. Annu. Conf. Southeast. Assoc. Fish and Wildl. Agencies 63:1-6 Numerous studies have detailed home range and survival for white-tailed deer herds throughout the United States, but such information is lacking for populations in Louisiana, particularly in bottomland forests which comprises 25% of Louisiana's forested land. The fertile soils of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) produce diverse and nutritious vegetation that support some of the highest carrying capacities of white-tailed deer in the southeast (Murphy and Noble 1972). Much of Louisiana's bottomland forests were lost through intensive logging or conversion to agriculture (Stanturf et al. 2001). However, bottomland forests are being restored through conservation and reforestation programs. As additional bottomland forests are restored, these areas will increase available habitat for white-tailed deer populations. As interest on both private and public lands moves toward data-intensive management, so will the desire and need for regional population demographic data such as home range, survival, and cause-specific mortality. Improving our understanding of space use within bottomland systems is important for developing management regimes with implications for management unit size. In addition, survival and mortality patterns within a population may reveal much about harvest intensities. In Louisiana, younger males are protected from harvest through the use of age or antler restrictions; thus, other sources of mortality may be more influential in shaping recruitment of males to older age classes. Our objectives were to estimate home range and core area size, determine seasonal and annual survival rates, and quantify cause-specific mortality of white-tailed deer in a bottomland hardwood forest of southcentral Louisiana.

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