Translocation of wildlife has become common practice for wildlife managers charged with management of animals on increasingly modified landscapes. Translocation can be used to reduce population density in the source area, supplement existing populations, reestablish extirpated populations, and establish new populations. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are a species of great interest to the public in western North America. Although translocations have been used to manage mule deer, very little has been done to document the outcomes of this management practice. The purpose of this research was to evaluate movement, site fidelity, space use, and survival of translocated mule deer in relation to the timing of release (early versus late winter) and to provide managers with information useful in judging the relative value of translocation as a management strategy for this species. We captured 102 mule deer in January and March 2013 and translocated them from winter range near Parowan, UT, to winter range along the Pahvant Mountain Range near Holden, UT (approximately 144 km north of the capture location). Each deer was fitted with a radio transmitter (21 GPS collars, 81 VHF collars) prior to release to document outcomes. In January 2013 and 2014 we also captured and marked a total of 70 resident deer (non-translocated deer; 9 GPS collars, 61 VHF collars) to serve as a reference group within our study area. Following release, we monitored deer weekly through March 2015. We found that translocated deer had lower annual survival rates than resident deer during the first year following release, but similar annual survival rates to resident deer during the second year following release. Additionally, we found that age strongly influenced the survival of translocated deer; young deer (e.g., 2.5 year olds) were more than twice as likely to survive the initial year following translocation than old deer (e.g., 7.5 year olds). We also found that translocated deer had larger home ranges compared to resident deer during the first and second years following release. However, the average size of translocated deer home ranges decreased from year 1 to year 2 following release. Despite these large home ranges and extended movements during the summer months, most surviving deer (96 %) returned (within < 30 km) to winter range where they were released. We found no difference in movement, site fidelity, or survival for transplanted deer released in January and March. Based on our findings, wildlife managers that elect to translocate mule deer should not expect a difference in survival between early and late winter releases, but will likely see high site fidelity, higher survival rates during the second year following translocation (compared to the first year), and higher survival rates for younger deer compared to older deer.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Smedley, David C., "Influence of Release Timing on Survival and Movements of Translocated Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in Utah" (2016). All Theses and Dissertations. 6385.
mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus, translocation, transplant, fidelity, ungulate management