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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Jenks


Aside from the central region of North Dakota, North Dakota Game and Fish lacks basic information on seasonal movements, home range sizes, survival rates, and cause-specific mortality factors of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the Red River Valley where climate and landscape–level habitat characteristics differ markedly from those of previous research areas. As a result, the objectives of this study focused on collecting empirical data for those basic parameters along with determining response to seasonal flooding, monitoring disease, and measuring fawn bed site habitat characteristics. I captured and radiocollared 97 (60 adults, 37 neonates) deer in the Red River Valley in northeastern North Dakota. Of the surviving 78, 46 deer were classified as resident animals, 23 as migrators, and 9 deer exhibited late season movements. I calculated 83 individual home ranges and mean 50% and 95% kernel utilization distribution home ranges (HR). The 50% and 95% seasonal home ranges for resident deer (n=46) were 1.0 and 5.3 km2, respectively. Seasonal 50 and 95% HR estimates were as follows: 0.7 and 3.7 km2 for summer migrating deer (n=17), 0.7 and 7.0 km2 for winter migrating deer (n=19) and 1.1 and 4.8 km2 for deer that exhibited late season movements (n=9). During the flood event of 2013, deer were displaced a mean of 3.2 km from their original home range. Natural causes (e.g., poor nutrition, predation), were the greatest mortality factors influencing adult and neonate survival rates. Annual survival rates in adult deer were 0.75 (SE = 0.05, n=54) in 2012 and 0.74 (SE = 0.05, n=47) in 2013. Neonate summer survival rates were 0.50 (SE=0.11, n=18) in 2012 and 0.64 (SE = 0.12, n=19) in 2013. The majority of radiocollared adult female deer (2012: 84%, 2013: 85%) during the firearm season were located on posted private land and available for harvest by firearm hunters (2012: 81%, 2013: 79%). Overall, 50 (62%) neonatal bed sites were located in forested habitats, 13 (16%) in CRP, 12 (15%) in grass/pasture land, 3 (3.7%) in agricultural fields, and 3 (3.7%) in cattails. Neonates that survived west of Interstate 29 selected for shorter, less dense grass while neonates that survived east of Interstate 29 selected for taller, denser grass for bed sites. This valuable information provides North Dakota Game and Fish with better insight on how to manage their deer populations as well as baseline data to incorporate into an overall deer management plan.


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2015 Kristin M. Sternhagen