Although widespread changes in natural ecosystems associated with agricultural and urban development have negatively affected many organisms, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have greatly benefited from these human-induced changes by increased populations and range expansion. Current management of white-tailed deer in North Dakota involves balancing the popularity of the species as a big game mammal with the concerns of private landowners over increasing depredation damage. Further, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department oversees numerous Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where a variety of grains and other crops are grown to provide quality habitat and hunting opportunities. These WMAs are often surrounded by intensively farmed agricultural fields and associated farmsteads, which deer regularly visit in their normal movements in search of shelter and food.
The primary objectives in this study were to (1) assess seasonal patterns of habitat use and movements of white-tailed deer in relation to forage availability in food plots on Lonetree Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and in adjacent agricultural fields, and (2) evaluate survival in relation to different major mortality factors (hunting, deer-vehicle collisions, predation, etc.).