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Managing habitats for white-tailed deer in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains of South Dakota and Wyoming

Posted date: February 26, 2019
Publication Year: 
1996
Authors: Sieg, Carolyn H.; Severson, Kieth E.
Publication Series: 
General Technical Report (GTR)
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-274. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 24 p.

Abstract

The white-tailed deer is one of the most studied animals in North America, yet much of the available information has been derived in ecosystems different from the Black Hills. The Black Hills are unique in that the dominant species, ponderosa pine, has excellent regenerative abilities. This attribute, combined with timber management practices and fire suppression efforts in the last century, has allowed pine to expand at the expense of other plant communities. A critical first step in maintaining viable white-tailed deer populations in the Black Hills is identifying key winter ranges. Given that protein and energy are limiting in winter forages in this region, the emphasis of management on these ranges should be to enhance forage quality and quantity. Prescribed burning and timber harvest can be used to enhance the forage base. Grazing systems designed to remove livestock from these key winter ranges before late summer will provide a greater portion of the woody plants for deer use. Research needs focus on understanding how changes in Black Hills community patterns have influenced deer foraging strategies and habitat use, and on the need for ecologically based techniques to maintain consistent forage quality. Addressing these needs in an ecosystem framework will result in habitat for not only deer, but also for a multitude of other animal and plant species.

Citation

Sieg, Carolyn Hull; Severson, Kieth E. 1996. Managing habitats for white-tailed deer in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains of South Dakota and Wyoming. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-274. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 24 p.