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Foraging Behavior by Mule Deer: The Influence of Cattle Grazing
John G. Kie, Charles J. Evans, Eric R. Loft and John W. Menke
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Oct., 1991), pp. 665-674
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3809516
Page Count: 10
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We studied the effects of different cattle stocking rates on activity patterns of female mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) on a summer range in the Sierra Nevada of California. Using an automated telemetry system, we determined that deer averaged 32 ± 2.2 (SE)% of the time feeding, 8 ± 1.1% traveling, and 60 ± 2.4% resting per 24-hour period. Deer spent more time feeding and less time resting with increased cattle stocking rates. During 1984, a year of average precipitation, deer spent more time feeding per day in late summer than in early summer in range units grazed by cattle but did not do so in ungrazed range units. In 1985, a drier year, deer spent less time feeding per day in late summer in grazed range units. Time spent feeding by deer was negatively correlated with standing crop of herbaceous forage in meadow-riparian habitats. Deer increased their time spent feeding by shortening the length of resting bouts and including more feeding bouts each day, not by increasing the length of each foraging bout. Companion studies indicated that with cattle grazing, deer home-range sizes were larger (Loft 1988), and hiding cover for fawns was reduced (Loft et al. 1987). The results are consistent with the hypothesis that cattle competed with deer, particularly at high stocking rates and during a year of below-average precipitation. We suggest that female mule deer were acting as time-minimizers to meet the high energetic demands of lactation while minimizing their exposure to predators. Management options to reduce adverse effects include reducing or eliminating cattle grazing during early summer on all or part of the grazing allotment.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1991 Wiley