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Keywords:

  • ecology;
  • exurban;
  • home range;
  • Maryland;
  • movement;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • radiotelemetry;
  • white-tailed deer

ABSTRACT  White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) thrive in fragmented exurban habitats, resulting in increased occurrences of deer-human conflicts. To develop successful management regimes managers must understand exurban deer ecology, an area deficient in current literature. We investigated exurban white-tailed deer spatial ecology on Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area in Cecil County, Maryland, USA. From June 2004 to January 2006, we collected 37,384 telemetry locations and 1,194 visual observations on 66 radiocollared female white-tailed deer to investigate seasonal home range sizes, home range fidelity, and hourly movement rates. Annual adaptive-kernel home range size ranged from 8.1 ha to 21.7 ha and 70.9 ha to 144.5 ha among seasons (early, middle, and late-hunting, posthunting, and fawning) at the 50% and 95% utilization distributions, respectively. Seasonal home range size generally increased from the fawning through posthunting seasons. Seasonal home range overlap differed at 50% and 95% utilization distributions, with the least overlap occurring between the posthunting and fawning seasons (50%: = 19.4%, 95%: = 33.3%). Circadian activity varied among seasons with dusk movement rates greatest in all seasons. Our results suggest that this exurban white-tailed deer population resided on similar ranges throughout the year, making individuals available for harvest during traditional harvest seasons. To maximize deer—hunter contact, efforts should be focused around the dusk activity period to coincide with peak deer activity.