Context: Wild deer are increasing worldwide and, in Australia, prompting land managers to review management strategies. Management activities may be ineffective without a sound understanding of the ecology of the species. No peer-reviewed research has been published for wild red deer in Australia, where they have been introduced.
Aims: To help land managers gain an understanding of some movement parameters of introduced wild red deer out of their natural range.
Methods: GPS collars were used to obtain movement rates (m h–1), annual home range using three estimators and seasonal home range using the Local Convex Hull estimator.
Key findings: Deer at our study site displayed typical crepuscular movements. However, the lack of elevated activity for stags in summer varies greatly to reports from overseas. The annual home range of hinds was much smaller than that of stags. Large differences for seasonal home ranges from the same deer for two winters suggest that seasonal conditions may exert a large influence on the size of home ranges. The home ranges of deer at our study site were comparable with the largest reported in European studies, but the relationship between deer density and home-range area was markedly different.
Conclusions: It appears that Australian wild red deer behave differently from their European conspecifics for several important movement parameters. Wild stags did not display the high levels of movement activity in summer, like those in Europe, and the home-range areas of our deer were very large for the high densities we encountered compared with overseas reports.
Implications: Targeted management of hinds may prove beneficial as hinds had a much smaller and continuous home range than stags. If managers want to target stags, there is only a short rut period when they continually associate with hinds and that may be the most efficacious time for control. Additionally, future research may need to explore the link between home range and deer density, and the effect of variation in rainfall on home range and movement of wild red deer which may influence management activities more than do the regular seasonal patterns found in Europe.