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Title: White-tailed Deer Visitation Rates at Medicated Bait Sites in Southern Texas

item CURRIE, CHASE - Texas A&M University
item HEWITT, D - Texas A&M University
item ORTEGA-S, J - Texas A&M University
item SCHUSTER, GRETA - Texas A&M University
item PERRY, TASHA - Texas A&M University
item CAMPBELL, TYLER - Animal And Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), National Wildlife Center
item Lohmeyer, Kimberly - Kim
item Perez De Leon, Adalberto - Beto

Submitted to: Southeast Deer Study Group Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/9/2011
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, has been found on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) complicating eradication efforts of the USDA’s Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program. Our objective was to assess patterns of deer visitation to medicated bait sites used to treat deer for ticks. In March, September, and November 2010, we captured 120 deer on 3 study sites in Zapata County, Texas. Each deer was uniquely marked with colored and numbered ear tags. Motion triggered cameras were used to monitor deer visits to bait sites for 1-week (6, 24-hr periods) every month. The identity of marked deer in photographs was noted. Bait-site density was 1/35 ha. The proportion of adult male deer (0.60) visiting bait sites was greater than adult females (0.12) averaged across seasons. No more than 16% of marked fawns visited bait sites. Of adult deer that visited sites, males visited bait sites more days/week except during summer (3.13 vs. 2.1; P < 0.001), had more photos/week taken (14.9 vs. 6.8; P < 0.001), and visited more bait sites/day (1.1 vs. 1.0; P = 0.028) than females. Bait site visitation did not vary seasonally for females (P > 0.05). Males visited bait sites less often during summer (2.6 days/week) and had fewer photos/week during winter (10.6 photos) and summer (11.6 photos) compared to other seasons (=2.7 days/week and =15.6 photos/week, respectively). Low visitation to bait sites during summer probably resulted from an unusually wet summer that produced abundant, high quality forage. Our results suggest that treating fawn and female white-tailed deer will be difficult and may require higher bait-site density to overcome social interactions that presumably caused these patterns of bait site use.