Survival and Cause-Specific Mortality of White-tailed Deer in Southeastern Kentucky

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginanus) are the most sought after game species in Kentucky. Deer numbers in southeast Kentucky are relatively low compared to other areas of the state, even after a decade of restrictive doe harvest and prior population supplementation. We estimated survival and assessed cause-specific mortality of a representative deer population in this low-density area within or near the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone National Forest in southeastern Kentucky from January 2014-January 2017. Estimated annual survival for does averaged 0.89 and was relatively high compared to similar studies. Deer-vehicle collisions and poaching caused 13 of 18 (72%) deaths. We recommend longer-term studies at these and other sites in this area to better understand deer population dynamics and their relationship to important habitat components so as to inform regional management of this important game species.

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