Periodic Observations on an Unhunted South Carolina Deer Herd: 1976-1989

Periodic observations from 1976 through 1989 on an unhunted whitetailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herd located in coastal South Carolina indicated that the population had likely incurred a major decline from a hemorrhagic disease (HD) outbreak, and another may be imminent. Weights of adult does were comparable to those of the hunted herd on the nearby Francis Marion National Forest. Conception rates were insensitive to the occurrence of HD or acorn mast failures. Among adult does collected in early February, femur marrow fat content was a better indicator of animal condition and the abundance of acorns during the previous fall than perirenal fat or serum cholesterol levels. Significant (P < 0.05) differences in blood urea nitrogen and albumin concentrations seemed to be negatively associated with prevalence of HD and positively associated with fall acorn abundance. Significant (P < 0.05) differences in bilirubin and lactic dehydrogenase concentrations seemed to be positively associated with prevalence of HD.

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