Abstract

Title:  Survival and Cause-Specific Mortality of White-Tailed Deer Fawns in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina
Author(s): Clint M McCoy
Year: 2011
Abstract: Knowledge of factors influencing fawn survival greatly increases understanding of the dynamics of white-tailed deer populations. In an ongoing study in South Carolina, we radio-collared 224 fawns between 2006 - 2010. We modeled fawn survival from birth through 150 days. The probability of fawns surviving the study during 2006 and 2007 was 0.70 (95% CI: 0.45 – 0.87) and 0.63 (95% CI: 0.36–0.83), respectively, but decreased considerably in 2008 (0.48; 95% CI: 0.32– 0.64) and 2009 (0.35; 95% CI: 0.22–0.51). In 2010, survival increased to 0.63 (95% CI: 0.43–0.80), coincident with the first time predators had been trapped throughout the fawning season. Predation was the major cause of mortality (40.6%, n = 26), with coyotes, bobcats, and unknown predators accounting for 11, 7, and 8 mortalities, respectively. Malnutrition resulted in 15 (23.4%) mortalities, and cause of death could not be determined in 21 cases (32.8%). Concurrent with our study was an independently-operated predator control program where predators were removed as part of the management plan for the area. Using the trapping data from this program, we calculated a predator index (number caught/number of trap-nights) for the area. During 2006 and 2007, the number of coyotes/trap night was 0.005 and 0.007, respectively. However, there was a sharp increase in coyotes in 2008 (0.014 coyotes/trap night), which corresponds with the decrease in fawn survival. We hypothesize that this area is just beginning to be impacted by the high coyote predation that has been reported for other areas across the Southeast.

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