Conservation Reserve Program is a key element for managing white-tailed deer populations at multiple spatial scales

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Understanding the underlying mechanisms driving population demographics such as species-habitat relationships and the spatial scale in which these relationships occur is essential for developing optimal management
    strategies. Here we evaluated how landscape characteristics and winter severity measured at three spatial scales
    (1 km2
    , 9 km2
    , and hunting unit) influenced white-tailed deer occurrence and abundance across North Dakota by
    using 10 years of winter aerial survey data and generalized linear mixed effects models. In general, forest,
    wetland, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands were the main drivers of deer occurrence and abundance in most of the spatial scales analyzed. However, the effects of habitat features vary between the homerange scale (9 km2
    ) and the finer spatial scale (1 km2
    ; i.e., within home ranges). While escape cover was the main
    factor driving white-tailed deer occurrence and abundance at broad spatial scales, at a fine spatial scale deer also
    selected for food (mainly residual winter cropland). With CRP appearing in nearly all top models, here we had
    strong evidence that this type of program will be fundamental to sustaining populations of white-tailed deer that
    can meet recreational demands. In addition, land managers should focus on ways to protect other escape covers
    (e.g., forest and wetland) on a broad spatial scale while encouraging landowners to supply winter resources at
    finer spatial scales. We therefore suggest a spatial multi-scale approach that involves partnerships among
    landowners and government agencies for effectively managing white-tailed deer.

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International