Relationship of Habitat Use Patterns and Forage Preferences of White-tailed and Mule Deer to Post-Fire Vegetation, Upper Selway River, Idaho

Keay, J. A. 1977. Relationship of habitat use patterns and forage preferences of white-tailed and mule deer to post- fire vegetation, upper Selway River, Idaho. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Idaho. 76p.

ABSTRACT: Habitat use patterns and forage preferences of white-tailed deer and mule deer were investigated on two burns and adjacent areas in the White Cap Fire Management Unit, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, east-central Idaho. Radio telemetry and visual observations were used to evaluate habitat selection. Feeding site analyses were used to determine forage preferences. White-tailed deer showed a significant preference for the unburned Douglas-fir/ninebark habitat type during January, March, and April, 1976. Unburned bluebunch wheatgrass/poa was preferred during February. May through November, Douglas-fir and grand fir habitat types were utilized. Mule deer preferred burned Douglas-fir/ninebark and ponderosa pine/bluebunch wheatgrass habitat types in January through May. Burned grand fir/clintonia, bluebunch wheatgrass/poa and unburned ponderosa pine/bluebunch wheatgrass were used in equal proportion to availability during April and May. Subalpine fir habitat types appear preferred by mule deer during the summer months. Serviceberry, ninebark, and Scouler willow provided the bulk of the diet for both white-tailed and mule deer during the winter months. Use of grasses and forbs by white-tailed deer increased in late winter. Mule deer use of Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine increased as winter progressed. The herbaceous portion of the mule deer diet increased form an average of 8 percent during the winter months to 64 percent in the spring.