Population Characteristics of Urban White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) in Southern Springfield, Missouri

Date of Graduation

Spring 1999


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Lynn Robbins


Population characteristics of the urban white-tailed deer herd in southern Springfield were investigated from January 1997 through December 1998. Throughout the duration of the study a total of fifty-three deer were captured by the use of Clover traps and a rocket net. A total population size estimate of 76 and a population density of 15 deer/ km² were determined by mark-recapture methods. An approximate age ratio of 4:1:1, fawns: yearlings: adults existed for the marked portion of the population. A sex ratio of 3:1, females: male was determined for yearlings and adults within the population. An annual mortality rate of 13.2% was established for the marked portion of the population. Mortalities were attributed to vehicle collisions, hunter harvest, capture myopathy, and unknown causes. Sixty percent of all mortalities were due to vehicle collisions. Mortalities had a bimodal distribution throughout the duration of the study. Mean home range size for nine females was 55.38 ha; for the male, area of home range was 164 ha. Overlapping female home ranges were attributed to social or kin group associations. The mean summer and winter home range sizes for females were 33.78 ha, and 36.45 ha respectively. The male made a four-kilometer migration to and from summer and winter home ranges that were 74.0 ha and 109.2 ha respectively. Consecutive years of sampling throughout the projected long-range term of this project are needed in order to determine whether the white-tailed deer on the Nature Center are having a detrimental effect on the species richness, species diversity and browse within this area. The majority of the residents within the study area are extremely interested in the population of white-tailed deer that reside in this area, particularly with the potential problems associated with overabundance and the management of this population. If it is determined that population management techniques are to be employed then it is necessary that area residents, local wildlife managers and city government officials work together to establish the best management technique with regards to effectiveness, efficiency, cost, public acceptance, safety, and feasibility.

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© Eric Robert Koch