Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Jonathan A Jenks


avoidance, energy development, home range, resource selection, western Dakotas, white-tailed deer


Oil and natural gas development has increased in recent years and research is needed to assess potential impacts on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations. Our objectives were to document movements, home ranges, and resource selection of female white-tailed deer in response to energy development in the western Dakotas. Our study areas included Dunn County, North Dakota, an area with current oil and gas development, and Grant County, North Dakota, and Perkins County, South Dakota, areas without current oil and gas development. We captured and fitted 150 female deer with Very High Frequency (VHF) collars across study sites, and monitored movements through radio telemetry from March 2014 to December 2015. We collected 10,729 locations from radio collared individuals, documented seasonal movements, generated 50 and 95% home ranges, mapped and ground-verified habitats within home ranges, and conducted resource selection analysis using design II (population level) and design III (home range level) analyses. Overall 50 and 95% summer home ranges were 0.79 and 3.38 km2, respectively, overall 50 and 95% winter home ranges were 2.0 and 7.9 km2, respectively, for migrators, and overall 50 and 95% annual home ranges were 1.09 and 4.74 km2, respectively, for resident deer. Overall mean migration distance was 8.0 km. We suspect that home ranges and seasonal movements were influenced by habitat availability, food availability, and weather and environmental conditions. We found that at the population level, deer commonly selected areas with agricultural crops (i.e., corn and sunflowers), wetlands, and forests in summer, and areas with agricultural crops and forests in winter. At the home range level, deer generally selected forests and wetlands in summer as well as forests in winter. We found that deer in Dunn County avoided developed areas at the population level during summer 2015, as well as during summers at the home range level. We compared the distance from home range centroids and random points to oil and gas well pads within the Dunn County study area and found that home range centroids averaged 1.57 km farther from well pads than random points, indicating that white-tailed deer in Dunn County were avoiding well pads. Our results showed that white-tailed deer home ranges in Dunn County were being affected by oil and gas development, and further monitoring is needed to assess continued effects on deer populations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

White-tailed deer -- Effect of energy development on -- North Dakota.
White-tailed deer -- Effect of energy development on -- South Dakota.
White-tailed deer -- North Dakota -- Geographical distribution.
White-tailed deer -- South Dakota -- Geographical distribution.
White-tailed deer -- Seasonal distribution -- North Dakota.
White-tailed deer -- Seasonal distribution -- South Dakota.
oil and gas leases -- Environmental aspects.
Gas well drilling -- Environmental aspects.
Oil well drilling -- Environmental aspects.
Petroleum industry and trade -- Environmental aspects.
Habitat (Ecology)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright