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Mortality and survival of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus fawns on a north Atlantic coastal island

Long, Robert A., O'Connell, Allan F., Harrison, Daniel J.
Wildlife biology 1998 v.4 no.4 pp. 237-247
Canis latrans, Odocoileus virginianus, deer, fawns, humans, landscapes, national parks, neonates, predation, residential areas, survival rate, Maine
Mortality and survival of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus fawns (N = 29) were studied from birth to one year of age during 1991–95 on Mount Desert Island (MDI), Maine, where deer hunting is prohibited, coyotes Canis latrans have become recently established, and protected U.S. National Park lands are interspersed with private property. The rate of predator-caused mortality was 0.52, with coyote predation (N = 8) accounting for at least 47% of mortalities from all causes (N = 17). Mortality rate from drowning was 0.24 (N = 3), and from vehicles 0.14 (N = 3). For fawns radio-collared as neonates, 10 of 14 mortalities occurred during the first two months of life. Annual rate of fawn survival was 0.26. Survival rate from six months to one year was 0.65 and four mortalities (two predation, two drowning) were observed during this interval. A subgroup of fawns (N = 11) captured near a residential area and along the periphery of a coyote territory had a higher rate of survival to one year of age (S = 0.67) than did fawns from all other areas (N = 18, S = 0.00). Recruitment to one year of age was lower than that observed in other deer populations in the northeastern United States. Low recruitment associated with coyote predation and mortality sources associated with humans appears to be limiting white-tailed deer populations in some segments of this insular landscape.