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White-tailed deer distribution in response to patch burning on rangeland

Meek, M. G.; Cooper, S. M.; Owens, M. K.; Cooper, R. M.; Wappel, A. L. 2008. White-tailed deer distribution in response to patch burning on rangeland. Journal of Arid Environments. 72(11): 2026-2033.

Management of rangelands has changed substantially over the past few decades; today there is greater emphasis on wildlife management and increased interest in using natural disturbances such as fire to manage rangeland plant and animal communities. To determine the effect of prescribed fires on the distribution of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), we used Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to monitor the movements of bucks and does during four, month-long, trials before and during the year after implementation of three late summer burns. Deer were expected to increase their use of burned areas to take advantage of fresh plant growth after the disturbance. However, the only increased use of burns occurred 1-2 months after treatment. The presence of cattle did not limit deer use of burns. Low use of burned areas was attributed to drought conditions, which limited vegetation regrowth. Other than a brief flush of fresh grass in autumn, no changes in plant cover could be ascribed to the burns. Thus, in semi-arid areas, use of prescribed burns to reduce brush cover and increase forb production for deer may not be successful, at least in the short-term, if lack of rainfall limits regrowth of vegetation.

Keywords: fire, GPS, shrubland, spatial distribution, Texas, wildlife management

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: White-tailed deer distribution in response to patch burning on rangeland
Electronic Publish Date: April 3, 2009
Last Update:
April 3, 2009

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