Rural residential development in the Rocky Mountain West is resulting in increased conflict between ungulate habitat and infrastructure. Subdivisions, houses, and roads in winter range affect ungulates both behaviorally and demographically and reduce management options available to agencies. I reviewed literature on the effects of land use change (especially residential development) on elk (Cervus canadensis), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), American pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

To date, only 23 studies specifically examined residential development and its influences on the focal species. Studies varied in methodology (i.e., aerial and ground surveys, pellet counts, movement rates) and analyses. The literature suggests most ungulates exhibit short-term behavioral reactions to human disturbance. However, few studies link these responses to population-level consequences or test the cumulative impact that multiple developments and development types (i.e., roads, housing, industrial development) have on seasonal habitat use and migratory behavior. Short-term and small-scale observational studies have articulated the conflict between humans and ungulates on shared habitat. Those studies need to be followed with well designed experiments and large scale jurisdictional projects so managers and planners can make more credible recommendations to direct future exurban development that benefits wildlife and humans.

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