Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist· 42(1/2): June 2010, pp 8-18
Winter habitat and resource use of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been studied extensively throughout their northern range. However, limited information exists on deer use of late season standing corn. We evaluated standing corn use by female white-tailed deer on winter range in north-central South Dakota during winter 2005-2006. Results indicate that cover type selection occurred at the population (P < 0.001) and home range (P < 0.001) levels. PopUlation level analysis indicated selection for standing corn (vi> = 4.31) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands (vi> = 2.81). Similarly, at the home range level, deer selected for standing corn (vi> = 1.35) and CRP grasslands (vi> = 1.44). Deer disproportionately increased use of standing corn and CRP as habitat availability increased. Moreover, deer used wetlands and forested habitat in proportion to availability. In this region of the Northern Great Plains, availability and distribution of traditional cover habitats (i.e., forested and wetland habitats) is limited. We speculate that deer selected late season standing corn to optimize thermoregulatory and forage requirements, as well as visual protection against potential predators.