White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are overabundant in many areas, particularly in more developed landscapes where refuges may provide additional challenges for deer managers. Refuges have been widely used to sustain breeding stock in harvested populations and to mitigate other sources of mortality. As the landscape becomes more urbanized, local municipalities and states have implemented safety zones to reduce the probability of a hunter’s projectile from accidentally striking a building or its inhabitants. I evaluated if mandated safety zones in Delaware may constitute unintentional refuges. I used Delaware’s land-cover data to created buffers (i.e., 46, 91, and 183 m) around each building to mimic current state regulations (i.e., 46 and 91 m) and those in northern New Castle County (i.e., 183 m). I overlaid these buffers on deer habitat coverage to determine the amount of deer habitat not available for harvest, which I assumed would act as a refuge because hunting was prohibited in these areas. The amount of deer habitat available for harvest was 39, 71, and 92% for the 183-, 91-, and 46-m safety zones, respectively. For land in public ownership, the amount of deer habitat available for harvest was 55, 81, and 96% for the 183-, 91-, and 46-m safety zones, respectively. The amount of deer habitat available for harvest on private land was 34, 67, and 91% for the 183-, 91-, and 46-m safety zones, respectively. My results suggest that allowing archery and carefully evaluating actual safety concerns will reduce the influence of inadvertent refuges on deer management.
Bowman, Jacob L.
"The role, size, and effectiveness of safety zones for creating refuges for white-tailed deer,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 6
, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol6/iss2/11