Mortality of White-Tailed Deer Fawns in the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

Thirty-five white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns 1 to 28 days of age were captured in 1974 and 1975. Survival and causes of mortality were determined by radio telemetry. Average annual mortality was 87.9 percent, based on a 63 percent mortality rate in 1974 and a 96 percent mortality rate in 1975. Predation by coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) was involved in 96.6 percent of the observed mortality. Salmonellosis was detected in three 1975 fawns at capture but clinical symptoms of the disease were not noted during the study. Coyote and bobcat predation combined to exert long-term postnatal pressure (up to 16 weeks) on the fawn segment of the deer herd. Study results suggest the experimental use of short-term seasonal predator control to allow fawn survival to increase on those portions of the county open to deer hunting, but compensatory natural mortality may offset this anticipated gain. These results also underscore the effectiveness of coyotes and bobcats as natural deer population controls on areas where hunting is not allowed.

GARNER-493.pdf560.89 KB
Starting page
Ending page