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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Jonathan A Jenks


In the Northern Plains, agriculture is a predominant economic activity for many communities. Agricultural depredation by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is considered excessive by many land operators in this area. In this study, density, home range, core area, average daily movement, activity patterns, habitat importance, and habitat selection of white-tailed deer were investigated during the agricultural production season on Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge (SLNWR) and the surrounding private agricultural lands (PAL) in northeastern South Dakota. Deer were trapped on SLNWR and PAL during spring and summer 1995 and winter 1996 using modified Clover traps. Selected deer were radio-collared during 1995 (n = 21) and 1996 (n = 25) based on capture location, sex, and age. Deer densities were determined using spotlighting techniques, home ranges were calculated using the adaptive kernel method in program CALHOME, and habitat use patterns were evaluated with a Geographical Information System. Deer densities on SLNWR (1995, 24. 7 � 1. 4 deer/krn2; 1996, 23.7 + 8. 6 deer/krn2) were significantly higher (P < 0. 05) than on PAL (1995, 8. 0 ± 0. 6 deer/krn2; 1996, 8.6 + 1. 8 deer/krn2). Horne range size was greater (P = 0.001) for males than for females. Deer on PAL had larger (P<0.001) home ranges (95% contour) than SLNWR and OPP (deer that used both SLNWR and PAL) deer. Female core areas (50% contour) were smaller (P=0.014) than male core areas. Female average daily movement was reduced (P=0.012) for SLNWR and OPP deer compared to deer using PAL. Deer were more active (P = 0.037) on PAL during early morning and late evening hours compared to SLNWR and OPP deer. Females were more active (f = 0.077) than males during mid- to late-evening. Conservation Reserve Program grasslands, treebelts, and developed areas were highly selected (P< 0.05) across years and treatments at the landscape level. Treebelts and emergent vegetation were highly selected (P< 0. 05) at the home range level between years. However, only treebelts were highly selected (P < 0.05) across treatments. Shrub-dominated grasslands and Conservation Reserve Program grasslands were highly selected (P < 0.05) at the core area level between years; whereas, only Conservation Reserve Program grasslands were highly selected (f < 0. 05) across treatments. Private lands deer moved larger distances between water, cover, and forage than refuge deer, which increased activity and home ranges of these deer. Across selection levels and treatments, treebelts were the most selected habitat. Results indicated that cover may be more important to white-tailed deer than agricultural crops, particularly when agricultural crops are readily available. Higher deer density on SLNWR than PAL is likely due to more permanent cover (e. g., treebelts, emergent vegetation) available to SLNWR deer than PAL deer. When investigating wildlife complaints (e.g., depredation), considering different classes (i.e., SLNWR, PAL, OPP) of animals is essential for effective management.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

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


Includes bibliographical references (page 106-114)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1997 Robyn E. Oliver. All rights reserved.