Predator Removal and White-tailed Deer Recruitment in Southwestern Georgia

We assessed the efficacy of predator removal as a tool for increasing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwestern Georgia, an area with a low-density (2-6 deer/km2) deer herd. We partitioned our 11,736-ha study area into predator removal (approximately 4,200 ha) and non-removal (approximately 2,800 ha) zones with a 4,500-ha buffer between them. We removed 23 coyotes (Canis latrans) and 3 bobcats (Lynx rufus) from the removal zone between January and August 2008. Most of these (14 coyotes and 1 bobcat) were removed during the fawning period (June-August 2008). Pre-hunting season camera surveys conducted during September 2008 indicated a difference in fawn:doe ratios between the two zones (0.68 in the removal zone; 0.07 in the non-removal zone). Post-hunting season surveys conducted during February suggested a fawn:doe ratio of 0.97 in the removal zone and 0.45 in the non-removal zone. Our study provides further evidence that predator management may be an effective tool for increasing fawn recruitment in low-density deer herds.

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