Prescribed Fire Interval and Economic Tradeoffs on Forage and Nutrient Availability During Stress Periods for White-tailed Deer
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Forestry and Wildlife Science
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Prescribed fire is an effective habitat management tool that enhances the production of quality forage for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), but its effectiveness is largely dependent upon return interval. We determined the suitability of a 1- versus 2-year burn interval in pine-hardwood stands and found that annual burning improved habitat quality to a greater degree than biennial burning by increasing the production of forage able to support greater nutritional planes. While native forage can provide an important supply of resources, nutritional availability may also be enhanced through food plots and supplemental feed. However, nutritional demands of deer, and forage quality and abundance fluctuate throughout the year. Therefore, we conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine how to cost-effectively maximize food production during nutritional stress periods for deer. Native forage and food plots cost-effectively maximized food production during June and July, but supplemental feed became increasingly important during September.