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Mid-Atlantic Network (MIDN)

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White-tailed Deer Monitoring

White-tailed deer at Shenandoah National Park
White-tailed deer at Shenandoah National Park

White-tailed Deer Resource Briefs

White-tailed Deer Monitoring Reports

White-tailed Deer Monitoring Protocols

An updated Deer monitoring protocol is currently under development.

For more information contact: Rolf Gubler

Justification

Many national parks offer protected sanctuaries for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). In some eastern parks white-tailed deer have been responsible for over-browsing native vegetation and reducing woody regeneration, thereby changing the cultural and natural landscapes and affecting ecosystem health.

While native to the Mid-Atlantic region, white-tailed deer population levels have increased steadily due to the prohibition of hunting in parks, the extirpation of natural predators, and park management practices that create habitat preferred by deer (e.g. creation and maintenance of mowed grass corridors).

Within Shenandoah National Park, the highest deer densities are concentrated in and around the park's developed areas, and spotlight surveys confirm that Big Meadows, Loft Mountain, Piney River/Mathews Arm, and Skyland areas contain the four highest deer densities in the park. These areas often contain unique natural resources and a mix of cultural resources.

The area with the greatest relative deer density, Big Meadows (150-180 deer/mi2), contains the most unique cultural landscape, natural landscape features, and the rarest plant communities of all the developed areas.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Evaluate long-term quantifiable deer density trends in the Big Meadows area.
  2. Show spatial and temporal habitat usage trends in the Big Meadows area.

Network Park Units Monitored

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster