Migration behavior among female white-tailed deer in central and northern Illinois

Charles M. Nixon, P. C. Mankin, Dwayne R. Etter, L. P. Hansen, P. A. Brewer, J. E. Chelsvig, T. L. Esker, J. B. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thirty-nine female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were migrators from three study areas in central and northern Illinois, 1980-1993. Migrants averaged 21.5%, 9.4% and 14.6% of marked females known alive each year on the east-central, west-central and northern study areas, respectively. Females migrated to a summer range between late Feb. and early Jul. and to the winter range between late Sep. and early Jan. Spring migration distances averaged between 7.3 and 15.9 km from the winter range. Female fawns of migrating mothers were more likely to disperse or migrate than were fawns of sedentary mothers. Migrating females survived as long as sedentary females and significantly better than females that dispersed, but fawn recruitment was lower for migrating females compared with sedentary females. Winter severity did not affect return behavior from a summer range. Hunter harassment on the summer range initiated migration back to the winter range in 59% of 22 monitored migrations for 14 radio marked females. Prevailing winds from the winter or summer range appeared to help locate these ranges for 10 of 19 spring migrations for 16 females and three of seven fall migrations for four females. Migration behavior allows females to more fully utilize the fragmented landscapes of the agricultural Midwest. Migration behavior among females appears to result from resource competition among females including parturition sites where female densities are high and available habitats are scarce.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-190
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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