We examined the potential for localized management of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to be successful by measuring movements, testing site fidelity, and modeling the effects of dispersal. Fifty-nine females were radiomarked and tracked during 1997 through 2000 in Irondequoit, New York, USA, a suburb of Rochester. We constructed home ranges for those deer with A greater than or equal to 18 reclocations/season. Fifty percent minimum convex polygons (MCP) averaged 3.9 (SE = 0.53) ha in the summer and 5.3 (SE = 0.80) ha in the winter. Deer showed strong fidelity to both summer and winter home ranges, and 30 of 31 females showed overlap of summer and winter home ranges. Annual survival was 64%; the major cause of mortality was deer-automobile collisions. Average annual dispersal rates were <15% for yearlings and adults. Using matrix population modeling, we explored the role of female dispersal in sustaining different management objectives in adjacent locales of approximately 1,000 ha. Modeling showed that if female dispersal was 8%, culling would have to reduce annual survival to 58% to maintain a population just under ecological carrying capacity and reduce survival to 42% to keel) the population at one-half carrying capacity. With the same dispersal, contraception Would need to be effective in 32% of females if the population is near carrying capacity and 68% if the population is at one-half of carrying capacity. Movement behavior data and modeling results lend support to the use of a localized approach to management of females that emphasizes neighborhood-scale manipulation of deer populations, but our research suggests that dispersal rates in females could be critical to long-term success.
Additional publication details
Movement behavior, dispersal, and the potential for localized management of deer in a suburban environment