Date of this Version
Wildlife Society Bulletin 35(3):220–226; 2011; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.21
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were extirpated from a 1,800-ha natural area along the Missouri River near Omaha, Nebraska, USA shortly after settlement in the mid-1800s, but they recolonized the area in the early 1960s. In absence of hunting and predators, the population of deer became overabundant in the 1980s and 1990s. Deer impacted plant communities at Fontenelle Forest (FF) and Gifford Point (GP) and a 200–300% increase in deer–vehicle collisions was observed in the area. We radiocollared female white-tailed deer in this region during February 1995–March 1996 to determine the effects of phenological seasons and archery and muzzleloader hunting on space use. Mean size of annual home ranges of 50 radiocollared female deer was 275 ha (range = 18–4,265 ha, SE = 88). Forty-one of 50 deer (82%) maintained high fidelity to their small annual home ranges (x̅ = 115 ha, SE = 13) and made short seasonal movements (<1.0 km). Seven deer dispersed and exhibited large seasonal shifts in centers of home ranges (x̅ = 3.2 km, range ¼ 1–7 km) and 2 deer exhibited migratory behavior. We observed no spatial patterns associated with seasonal dispersal or migration that would subject deer in unhunted areas to harvest in hunted areas. Controlled deer hunts were implemented in the upland areas adjacent to Bellevue residential area and the lowlands of FF and GP. Effects of archery hunting on deer use areas were minimal. Deer subjected to muzzleloader hunting increased the size of use areas by 88–97% and shifted centers of use areas a mean of 666 m (SE = 211, range = 121–1,932 m), but they did not leave the lowland areas of FF or GP. Controlled hunts enabled the removal of resident deer from populations adjacent to the Bellevue residential area. Where practical, we suggest that regulated hunting be used as part of an overall plan to manage densities of deer and associated impacts in developed landscapes.