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Space use of sympatric deer in a riparian ecosystem in an area where chronic wasting disease is endemic

Walter, W. David, Baasch, David M., Hygnstrom, Scott E., Trindle, Bruce D., Tyre, Andrew J., Millspaugh, Joshua J., Frost, Charles J., Boner, Justin R., VerCauteren, Kurt C.
Wildlife biology 2011 v.17 no.2 pp. 191-209
Odocoileus hemionus, Odocoileus virginianus, chronic wasting disease, deer, ecosystems, females, habitats, home range, males, managers, models, rivers, sympatry, Nebraska
Knowledge of movements, range size and spatial overlap of sympatric deer is integral to understanding chronic wasting disease (CWD) in endemic areas and can assist resource managers in modeling the spread of the disease. We radio-collared 70 deer (30 mule deer Odocoileus hemionus and 40 white-tailed deer O. virginianus) in the North Platte River Valley in western Nebraska, USA, from 2004 to 2007 to document movements, size and spatial overlap of home range and resource selection of these sympatric species of deer. We compared home-range size and overlap and resource selection among male and female mule deer and white-tailed deer to examine relative use of space in order to understand the potential for indirect spread of CWD better. We identified forested, riparian habitats as high selection of use and these habitats could likely contribute to the potential spreading of CWD between sympatric deer that concentrate in these areas. We found that migration, size of home range of female mule deer, and similarities in resource selection could contribute to sustaining or spreading CWD in Nebraska. The role of female mule deer in the spread of CWD coupled with selection for riparian corridors by both species should be investigated further, because these factors may be a primary determinant of disease spread in the historical range of mule deer.