Social organization in deer: Implications for localized management
Populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) inhabiting many state and national parks and suburban areas have grown to the point that they conflict with human activities. Conflicts range from destruction of vegetation through browsing to public perception that diseases carried by deer pose threats to human health. Traditional modes of hunting to control populations are inappropriate in many of these areas because of intense human development and activity. This article explores an alternative approach for population reduction based on deer social organization. Female white-tailed deer are highly philopatric and female offspring remain near their dams for life. This suggests that a population expands slowly as a series of overlapping home ranges in a form analogous to the petals on a rose. Incorporating the rose petal concept into a model of population growth shows that removal of deer by family unit can potentially alleviate conflicts in localized areas for as many as 10–15 yr.
Key wordsWhite-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus Behavior Philopatry Population management
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