Directional long-distance movements by white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus in Florida
Knowledge of directional tendencies among long-distance movements by animals can be important in planning conservation and management strategies for wildlife at the landscape scale. The direction of 23 long-distance movements (≥2 km) among a non-migratory population of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus on the Osceola National Forest, Florida, during 1989–1991 was examined. Direction of dispersal by 10 yearlings (7 males, 3 females) was non-uniform in distribution and averaged 95°. Direction of 13 excursions by 12 adults (2 males, 10 females) also was non-uniform but was bimodally (east-west) distributed; mean directions of the two distributions were 83° and 261°. Thus, both excursions and dispersals of radio-instrumented deer were on an east-west axis. No prominent landscape features that would direct deer movement were apparent. However, the fact that deer movements followed a consistent directional trend, even in a relatively homogeneous landscape, may have important implications for management of gene flow among small populations.