Female white-tailed deer survival across ecoregions in Minnesota and South Dakota

American Midland Naturalist
By: , and 



Survival and cause-specific mortality of female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been well documented in forested and agricultural landscapes, but limited information has been collected in grassland habitats typical of the Northern Great Plains. Our objectives were to document and compare survival and cause-specific mortality of adult female white-tailed deer in four distinct ecoregions. We captured and radiocollared 190 (159 adult, 31 yearling) female white-tailed deer and monitored (including deer from a previous study) a total of 246 (215 adult, 31 yearling) deer from Jan. 2000 to Dec. 2007. We documented 113 mortalities; hunting (including wounding loss) accounted for 69.9% of all mortalities and vehicle collisions accounted for an additional 15.0%. Natural causes (e.g., disease, predation) of mortality were minor compared to human-related causes (e.g., hunting, vehicle collisions). We used known fate modeling in program MARK to estimate survival rates and compare ecoregions and seasons. Model {Sseason (winter = summer)} had the lowest AICc value suggesting that survival differed only between seasons where winter and summer survival was equal and differed with fall season. Annual and seasonal (summer, fall, winter) survival rates using the top model {Sseason (summer = winter)} were 0.76 (95% ci  =  0.70–0.80), 0.97 (95% ci  =  0.96–0.98), 0.80 (95% ci  =  0.76–0.83) and 0.97 (95% ci  =  0.96–0.98), respectively. High human-related mortality was likely associated with limited permanent cover, extensive road networks and high hunter density. Deer management in four distinct ecoregions relies on hunter harvest to maintain deer populations within state management goals.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Female white-tailed deer survival across ecoregions in Minnesota and South Dakota
Series title American Midland Naturalist
DOI 10.1674/0003-0031-165.2.426
Volume 165
Issue 2
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher University of Notre Dame
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 10 p.
First page 426
Last page 435
Country United States
State Minnesota, South Dakota
County Fillmore County, Lincoln County, Olmsted County, Pipestone County, Redwood County, Renville County, Brookings County, Brown County, Edmunds County, Faulk County, Grant County, McPherson County
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