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Home ranges and habitat selection of white-tailed deer in a suburban nature area in eastern Nebraska

  • Author(s): Hygnstrom, Scott E.
  • VerCauteren, Kurt C.
  • et al.
Abstract

We evaluated the movements of 59 radio-collared female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) at the Gifford Point Wildlife Management Area (GP) and Fontenelle Forest Nature Area (FF) in eastern Nebraska from 1994 to 1997. Annual home ranges averaged 276 ha (CI= 166 ha). Forty-four of the deer maintained relatively small home ranges (0= 129 ha) and resided in the GP lowlands (n=14), FF lowlands (n=11), and FF uplands-Bellevue residential area (BR) (n=19). Deer in the latter area were frequently observed in backyards, at deer feeders, and on city streets. Seven of the deer were transients, maintaining seasonal home ranges that varied in size and did not overlap in location. The centers of these seasonal home ranges were on average 2,430 m apart. No consistent patterns of dispersal or seasonal migration were detected. Deer response to hunter activity was highly variable. Most deer maintained relatively static home ranges before, during, and after the hunting seasons, but three deer moved over 2,000 m and established non-overlapping home ranges after the hunting seasons. Since no migration patterns were observed, we suggest that regulated hunting seasons continue in both the upland and lowland areas of GPFF, and in the open space areas of Bellevue where conditions are conducive to hunting.

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