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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Jonathan A Jenks


Density, movements, and habitat use of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virgni anus) were evaluated at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge (SLNWR), South Dakota. Deer detection rate was estimated (88.2%) in sample areas using infrared sensing. A flight transect method that was developed in 1993 to estimate deer density was used in 1994 to assess temporal variation and influence of a snow background on deer density estimates. A comparison of deer density estimates using infrared sensing and spotlight surveys indicated that spotlight surveys underestimated deer density. A correction factor (1.38) was calculated to increase accuracy of spotlight surveys, which may be conducted annually at minimal cost. Female deer that were hunted in 1992 responded to presence and activity of hunters by moving farther into emergent vegetation (i.e., escape cover) on SLNWR. However, females that moved to private lands in response to high water in 1993 increased movements during harvest to elude hunters. In fall 1992, hunted females exhibited high diurnal activity in the presence of high quality escape cover (i.e., emergent vegetation). However, differences in activity between preharvest seasons in 1992 and 1993 indicated that deer were most active crepuscularly when high quality escape cover was unavailable in fall 1993. Females were most active in mid-day in summer 1993. Although the only time that males were more active than females was fall 1992, females were more active than males in winter, spring, and summer 1993 and spring 1994. Deer home range sizes were smaller in summer 1993 than in fall 1992 and 1993. Deer habitat preferences also were influenced by high water in1 993 as preferred habitats during normal water levels at the landscape level in fall 1992 were those that provided high quality forage to deer. However, habitats that provided forage and cover replaced habitats that provided only cover in summer and fall 1993 when availability of emergent vegetation was limited. Croplands that were preferred habitats at the landscape level were replaced by tress at the home range level in all 3 seasons. Although emergent vegetation was the least preferred habitat in summer and fall, high use of emergent vegetation in fall 1992 indicated that emergent vegetation was an important habitat for deer. Burning and mowing may be used to manipulate emergent vegetation to maximize hunter/deer encounters and increase harvest.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

White-tailed deer -- Habitat -- South Dakota -- Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge
White-tailed deer -- South Dakota -- Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge -- Geographical distribution
White-tailed deer -- Seasonal distribution -- South Dakota -- Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge


Includes bibliographical references (page 63-69)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1994 David E. Naugle. All rights reserved.