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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, August 27, 2018

There is no question that Coyotes dine on deer fawns in the first few weeks of them being born in the Spring..........Black Bears and Bobcats also kill fawns during this time...............Outside of one study in South Carolina where it seems that Coyote predation on fawns in combination with the most recent allowed human hunter kill quotas does dampen deer populations, this phenomena(Coyotes dampening deer herds) does not seem to be at play in many other states such as Pennsylvania and NY............"U. of Delaware Researchers have recently found that in areas of the USA where there are virtually no coyotes, bears or bobcats present, 39 percent of the fawns still die within 30 days of being born".............. "In fact, 50 percent of those who died did so in the first seven days"..............."Survival after 90 days was 54 percent".............."Considering that there was no predator-caused mortality, you would think that survival rates would be higher".............."Some starved, others died from bacterial infections, some died from pneumonia and some drowned"...........Amazingly, rain kills Fawns........In the birth month of June, one inch of rainfall doubled the mortality rate of the new born fawns!............So, Deer survival and yearly fawn recruitment is a complex and ever changing myriad of the following variables--quality habitat, human hunting quotas, coyote/bear/bobcat predation, disease, environmental accidents and rainfall totals

Coyotes Eat Fawns, But Rain (Yes Rain!) Is a Threat to Deer Too


8/14/18-Dave Samuel

No matter where you go and no matter what state you live in, hunters blame coyotes for low deer numbers. Even though politicians seem to ignore science when making wildlife decisions, I don’t. Being a retired wildlife professor, I base things on what the data show, and I’ve tried to do that over the years in this Know Whitetails column.
So does the data show that coyotes are the bad guys when deer numbers drop? Do data show there’s a way to lower coyote numbers if indeed they are the bad guys?
This coyote story is really about fawn mortality, because coyotes eat fawns.

According to a new study, fawn survival increased as the percent of agriculture land increased. In other words, more forests, lower fawn survival; more cropland, higher fawn survival — at least up to a point. When they tweaked the data, they found that predation (all predators, not just coyotes) was highest in mixed forest and agricultural landscapes. Human-caused mortality was also the greatest there too. The study made no references to a specific predator, but it’s interesting that fawn predation is highest where you have the most forests.

Coyote with deer fawn

Black Bear with Deer Fawn

Bobcat with Adult Deer


Researchers at the University of Delaware looked at deer predation in a very unique way. They noted that coyote/fawn predation varies across the country from 14 percent mortality caused by coyotes to 87 percent.

Here’s the unique part of this research: They studied a large area that had lots of deer and almost no predators. No bears, very few bobcats and very few coyotes. They ran various predator surveys in that area, deployed trail cameras and recorded only one coyote. They examined data from coyote seasons that started in 2014 and found that only nine had been harvested in that area. Thus, the area was not totally free of coyotes, but there were very few. I’m not sure why this area had deer and few predators, but that was the case.

Doe with her fawn in rain storm

After surveying for predators, they went in and captured a number of does and put vaginal implants in them. When those does gave birth, the implants were expelled and sent out a signal. Researchers will then immediately go in and capture the fawns (54 captured). In this way, they don’t miss any predation because they get the fawns as soon as they are born. They also captured fawns by cruising and looking for does that had just dropped their fawns (55 captured). All fawns were radio-collared so that when that fawn died, they would find it right away.


In all fawn mortality studies, most of the mortality occurs in the first month. That was true for this study too. Why? Because 39 percent of the fawns were dead within 30 days. In fact, 50 percent of those who died did so in the first seven days. Survival after 90 days was 54 percent. Considering that there was no predator-caused mortality, you would think that survival rates would be higher.

Diseases like Chronic Wasting kill deer

If none were eaten by predators, how did they die? Some starved, others died from bacterial infections, some died from pneumonia and some drowned. I’ve never given much thought to the fact that rain might kill fawns, but it apparently does. In this Delaware study, one inch of rain a day doubled mortality. Wow! Even small amounts of rain in June can kill fawns. They also found that fawns from 4-year-old does and older had the highest survivor rates. Fawns from those does were heavier.
No fawn mortality studies have ever shown the impact of doe maturity and rain on mortality. Their conclusion was that predation might be less of a limiting factor then we once believed. Interesting study.


Before leaving Delaware, let me add that another study the University of Delaware folks did in that predator-free area looked at what killed yearling bucks. Forty-percent died, and hunting got 79 percent of those that died. Cars got 13 percent, disease got 11 percent. Again, none died from predation because there were few predators there.

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