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12 November 2019 Does Activity of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Vary between Human-Hunted Areas and Refugia?
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Hunting by humans impacts behaviors of targeted species, similar to what is observed in other predator-prey systems. Managed wildlife areas commonly have refuges where hunting is prohibited. Deer (family Cervidae) are commonly hunted species and their behavior might differ between such refuges and areas outside refuges where deer hunting is permitted. We predicted that white-tailed deer detections would be higher in refuges than in hunted areas as populations seek refugia from hunting, and that detections would be greatest at night in hunted vs. refuge areas. Using camera traps in refuge and hunted areas on two public wildlife areas in eastern Kansas, we calculated detections of individual deer per hour and categorized days into four time periods (dawn, day, dusk, night). Detection rates of deer overall (sexes pooled) did not vary significantly between refuges and hunted areas. Unexpectedly, male detection rates were higher in hunted areas than refuges. Differences in deer detection rates among time periods were marginally significant for deer overall with detection rates being higher during dawn than daytime, apparently driven by activity of females (as males showed no significant pattern). Sizes of the refuges in our study might not have been large enough to negate the effects of hunting pressure on deer behavior. Despite standardization of habitat characteristics, habitat differences between refuge and hunted areas may have also affected deer behavior. It is also possible that hunting pressure during our study (18 October – 15 November 2018) was not high enough to alter deer behavior. Future study is warranted to account for these variables.

Dylan M. Osterhaus and William E. Jensen "Does Activity of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Vary between Human-Hunted Areas and Refugia?," Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 122(3-4), 235-242, (12 November 2019).
Published: 12 November 2019

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