Exurban development is nonmetropolitan, residential development characterized by a human population density and average property size intermediate between suburban and rural areas. Although growth in exurban areas is outpacing that of urban, suburban, or rural landscapes, studies of deer (Odocoileus spp.) ecology in exurban areas are nonexistent. During 2003–2005, we studied space use (i.e., seasonal home-range and core-area size and habitat use relative to human dwellings) and survival of 43 female white-tailed deer (O. virginianus) in an exurban setting near Carbondale, Illinois. Deer had larger home ranges than most suburban deer populations and generally smaller home ranges than rural deer populations. When we analytically controlled for habitat use, deer exhibited a subtle avoidance of human dwellings, especially during the fawning season. The annual survival rate was among the highest reported in the literature at 0.872 (SE = 0.048). Only 5 deer (cause-specific mortality rate = 0.091) were harvested by hunters, indicating major obstacles for wildlife managers when attempting to manage deer in exurban areas using traditional hunter harvest.
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Vol. 71 • No. 4