Seasonal Feeding Habits of an Enclosed High Density White-Tailed Deer Herd in Northern Ohio

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Seasonal feeding habits of the white-tailed deer {Odocoileus virginianus) herd on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Plum Brook Station, near Sandusky, Ohio, were determined by microscopic analysis of rumen contents. At the time of this study, 2,499 — 94 (95% C.I.) deer inhabited the area, a density of 115 deer/km2. Deer grazed year-round, and in spite of a record high density, overall health of the herd was high. During a winter with deep snow cover, grass consumption decreased almost 50% when compared with the previous winter with light snow cover. Consumption of dead deciduous leaves approximately doubled during the same period. Neither snow depth nor inclement weather had any observable effect on the amount of woody browse in the diets; consumption of this food remained low during all seasons.


Author Institution: Department of Zoology, The Ohio State University



The Ohio Journal of Science. v85, n4 (September, 1985), 184-190