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Monday, January 25 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Deer Migration and Habitat Use Within Moose Range in Northeast Minnesota

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AUTHORS: Amanda McGraw*, Integrated Biosciences Graduate Program, University of Minnesota Duluth; Lou Cornicelli, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Ron Moen, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth

ABSTRACT: Interactions between moose Alces alces and deer Odocoileus virginianus are of particular interest in Minnesota in light of moose population declines and because of the potential for deer to negatively affect moose populations through resource competition and disease transmission. Both species use young forest as primary foraging habitat, and management to create these habitats for moose is occurring in Minnesota. Because moose and deer forage on similar vegetation, there is concern that restored habitat could lead to increased contact between the two species. We used activity data from GPS radiocollared deer (n = 53) to examine movement patterns and habitat use across multiple scales. Deer in interior northeast Minnesota displayed two migratory strategies: no migration (65%) and migration (35%). Migratory deer moved 7.7 km (range: 1.0-15.6 km) and did not leave moose range. There was no difference in migration distances between spring and fall (p = 0.77), as all deer returned to the previous year’s summer and winter home ranges. Winter home ranges during the more severe winter of 2014 (1.05 km2 ± 0.15) were smaller than summer home ranges (1.65 km2 ± 0.36) and 2015 winter home ranges (1.75 km2 ± 0.20), though differences between seasons and years were not statistically significant (p = 0.56). Use of conifer and mixed forests was higher during winter, while use of deciduous forest was predominant in summer. Woody wetlands were avoided at all times of year. Additionally, a concurrent project assessing the effectiveness of moose habitat restoration suggests overlapping occurrence of moose and deer ranging from 15-40% in areas believed to be attractive to moose because of ample forage availability. Thus, deer in interior northeast Minnesota may pose a risk to moose throughout the year in terms of resource competition and disease transmission regardless of migratory strategy.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
Vandenberg A