Impacts of human hunting on spatial behavior of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Academic Article uri icon


  • Predators can influence populations through top-down effects, but most large predators have been extirpated from the range of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)). Hunters have filled this predatory role, but also can indirectly influence prey species. Indirect behavioral responses can include altered resource selection, space use, or movement. Herein, we developed a controlled study that contained both temporal and spatial risk levels to assess how deer behavior changes relative to temporal periods of risk. Total distance travelled and microrange area over 2-day periods were used to determine the general effects of hunting season on deer spatial behavior. Generally, distance travelled, microrange area, and exploratory behavior decreased during the course of the study, with the greatest decrease occurring during the active 16-day hunting period. Despite potential risk and disturbance from hunters, deer maintained site fidelity to previously established ranges and did not expand microrange areas. These data indicate that deer recognize threats from humans on the landscape and adapt behavioral strategies by minimizing movement and exhibiting high residency times in well-established ranges, factors known to influence harvest susceptibility. This information can be used to assess potential impacts from hunting for management purposes, but also to test the adaptive ability of animals to risk.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Marantz, S. A., Long, J. A., Webb, S. L., Gee, K. L., Little, A. R., & Demarais, S.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Marantz, Sierra A||Long, Jed A||Webb, Stephen L||Gee, Kenneth L||Little, Andrew R||Demarais, Stephen

publication date

  • October 2016