Wolf, Canis lupus, Visits to White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, Summer Ranges: Optimal Foraging?


  • Dominic J. Demma University of Minnesota, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, 1980 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108
  • L. David Mech United States Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 - 37th Street, SE, Jamestown, North Dakota 58401-7317




Wolf, Canis lupus, White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus, predation, optimal foraging, Minnesota


We tested whether Wolf (Canis lupus) visits to individual female White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) summer ranges during 2003 and 2004 in northeastern Minnesota were in accord with optimal-foraging theory. Using GPS collars with 10- to 30-minute location attempts on four Wolves and five female deer, plus eleven VHF-collared female deer in the Wolves' territory, provided new insights into the frequency of Wolf visits to summer ranges of female deer. Wolves made a mean 0.055 visits/day to summer ranges of deer three years and older, significantly more than their 0.032 mean visits/day to ranges of two-year-old deer, which generally produce fewer fawns, and most Wolf visits to ranges of older deer were much longer than those to ranges of younger deer. Because fawns comprise the major part of the Wolf's summer diet, this Wolf behavior accords with optimal-foraging theory.