Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Date of this Version

October 2000

Abstract

Behavior of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has been studied extensively in refuges and agricultural regions, although little research has focused on deer in urban environments. Dramatic urbanization and development fragments habitat available for wildlife species and deer densities often exceed ecosystem carrying capacity in remnant natural areas. This may impact deer social behavior and spatial home range patterns. We radio-marked 21 female white-tailed deer in the Des Plaines and Palos Forest Preserves near Chicago, Illinois to study spatial use of deer relative to conditions in urban forest preserves. Telemetry locations were collected once per week and included both day and night fixes (May 1998-March 1999). The effects of differences in urbanization and human demographics surrounding both Des Plaines and Palos Forest Preserves were evaluated using a Geographical Information System. We found that female deer in Des Plaines had smaller, more linear home ranges that stretched into urban areas outside the forest preserve whereas female deer in Palos remained within preserve boundaries and maintained smaller, more centralized home ranges. Understanding spatial patterns and habitat selection of urban deer will increase the knowledge and predictive capabilities of deer managers.