Abstract

Title:  Breeding season timing and fecundity of white-tailed deer.
Author(s): Casscles, K. M., B. D. Leopold, and H. A. Jacobson.
Year: 1992
Abstract: Harvest data for 29 areas studied from 1976-1979 were re-examined to determine effects of harvest strategies on timing of breeding season and fecundity of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virninianus) in Mississippi. A total of 207 and 496 female white-tailed deer were examined during the 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 seasons, respectively. Reproductive tracts were examined for presence or absence of corpora lutea and fetuses and from this information, breeding dates were calculated. Areas were classified into harvest strategy categories (buck exploited, balanced either-sex and quality management) based on fourteen years of harvest data. Analysis of median breeding dates showed significant differences (P < 0.05) using conception data (fetuses only) and breeding data (fetuses and corpora lutea) between the 1976-1979 study and the present. Median breeding dates did not differ between balanced either-sex and quality management harvest strategy areas but both significantly differed (P < 0.05) from buck exploited harvest strategy areas. Areas that practiced quality deer or balanced-either sex harvest strategies had median breeding dates that averaged two weeks earlier than areas that were buck exploited. Analysis of mean number of fetuses showed significant differences (P < 0.05) between study areas but not between study periods as did mean number of corpora lutea. We conclude that it may be advantageous for areas which are presently buck exploited and are experiencing later than average peak ruts to consider alternative management practices to shift to earlier breeding peaks.

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