We studied the seasonal home range of individual white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as it related to landscape pattern (forest-edge density; the ratio of agriculture to forest), local deer density, and harvest intensity in a population managed for control of chronic wasting disease in south central Wisconsin. The ratio of agriculture to forest showed strong positive correlation to home range size for most age and sex classes, while forest edge density was inversely related to home range size for adult females. Individual home range size proved largely independent of density and harvest intensity. It is likely that socio-spatial factors (i.e., fidelity) and the availability of food and cover influence home range size more strongly than hunting pressures or density reductions. This suggests localized reductions may create areas of low density without changing the behavior patterns of the population. Our findings suggest a more spatially-targeted effort to reduce density, by removal of social groups, in areas where chronic wasting disease is present may provide better efficacy in reducing potential for disease transmission.
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Vol. 173 • No. 2