Resource Selection by Parturient and Post-parturient White-tailed Deer and their Fawns

Resource selection by female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and their offspring during the fawning season can influence survival and recruitment. The selection process in females is thought to represent the balancing of often competing demands to minimize predation risk and maximize resource availability to support the energetic demands of lactation. We used a distance-based approach to examine selection of fawn-rearing areas and locations within fawning areas for 20 radio-instrumented female white-tailed deer on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. We also examined selection of vegetative attributes at parturition sites (n = 20) and fawn bed sites (n = 106). Females selected fawn-rearing areas nearer to agriculture than expected given their home ranges, but within their fawn-rearing areas, females were located farther from agriculture and reforestation than expected. Parturition sites and fawn bed sites had greater visual obstruction (VO) than random sites. With every 20% increase in VO, a site was 2.55 or 1.66 times more likely to be used as a parturition or bed site, respectively. Avoiding agricultural and CRP reforestation areas and selecting sites with more concealment cover suggests that both females and fawns selected areas that reduce predation risk to the fawn.

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