Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Jenks


white-tailed deer, movements, population, south dakota


To effectively manage white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations, managers need to identify population parameters including but not limited to movements, survival and cause-specific mortality. It also is helpful to examine population size and density. The primary objectives of my study were to document seasonal migration, estimate survival rates for female adult white-tailed deer, and generate a sightability model for deer in southeastern South Dakota. Secondary objectives were to calculate seasonal home ranges and document cause-specific mortality. Forty four adult female white-tailed deer were monitored from February 2009 to January 2011 in Bon Homme and Yankton counties. I documented 38 seasonal movements during four migration periods; spring 2009 (n = 9), fall 2009 (n = 5), spring 2010 (n = 13), and fall 2010 (n = 11). Mean migration distance was 10.6 km (SE = 1.1). I calculated 82 seasonal home ranges during three seasons; summer 2009 (n = 21), winter 2009-2010 (n = 30), and summer 2010 (n = 31). Mean 95% summer and winter home range size was 2.0 km² (SE = 0.2, n = 52) and 2.3 km² (SE = 0.3, n = 30), respectively. During this study, 19 deer died and the overall (24 month) survival rate was 0.47 (SE = 0.08, n =33). Annual survival rates for 2009 and 2010 were 0.62 (SE = 0.09, n = 24) and 0.74 (SE = 0.07, n = 33) respectively. Survival was predominantly dependent upon human-related factors. Natural causes (5%) were minimal when compared to human-related causes (84%). Hunting, including wounding loss, was responsible for 37% of all mortalities. Two sightability flights were conducted in 2009 and four additional flights were conducted in 2010. Variables examined were group size and movement, effect of sunlight or shade, % canopy, % snow cover, and habitat the variables trees, tall grass, short grass, standing corn, agricultural fields, and cattails. Canopy cover prevented visual observation of deer because most of the canopy consisted of mature eastern red cedar (Juniperous virginiana). These data can be used to improve population models in this region of South Dakota; however, further monitoring of these variables and others are critical to developing a well-defined population model for white-tailed deer in the region.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

White-tailed deer -- Seasonal Distribution -- South Dakota
White-tailed deer -- Mortality -- South Dakota
Deer populations -- South Dakota
Aerial surveys in wildlife management


Includes bibliographical references (page 45-61)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2013 Trenton J. Haffley. All rights reserved.