Mortality rates of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) fawns have been quantified throughout North America. Few studies, however, have assessed cause-specific mortality of fawns after the first 3 months of life or during a severe weather event. During 2010–2014, we captured and radio-tracked 93 fawns in southern and central Illinois and recorded 18 mortality events. In order of importance, survival rates were affected by days since capture, year of drought, age at capture, week after capture (1 or 0 indicator), and region. Estimated overwinter (fall through spring) survival rate (±SE) of fawns in both regions during 2010–2014 was 0.83 ± 0.04. However, estimated overwinter survival rates were depressed during 2012–2013, following the severe drought of 2012 (0.63 ± 0.11 or 0.66 ± 0.11 depending on the model). Main causes of mortality were capture-related and predation, though some dead deer also showed signs of hemorrhagic disease. We suspect that the extreme drought of 2012 created favorable conditions for fall–spring mortality of fawns, due to elevated disease transmission and lower forage quality and quantity for deer. In addition, drought may have contributed to predation by reducing abundance of alternative prey. Our results suggest that severe weather conditions during summer can substantially impact overwinter fawn survival.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Canadian Journal of Zoology|
|State||Published - 2018|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank D. Johnson, Touch of Nature Environmental Center at Southern Illinois University, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Rend Lake U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Lake Shel-byville U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for property access. Field support and advice were provided by J.C. Borcherding, B.J. Easton, A.C. Edmunds, L.C. Hawk, E.J. Holzmueller, D. Kahl III, K.T. Kossel, S. Locke, C.L. Lockerby, L.R. Mitchell, A.M. Rosenblatt, J.E. Schoonover, P. Shelton, R.G. Tebo, B.J. Tritsch, B.N. Towery, C. Wickhem, and K.H. Wiskirchen. We appreciate comments from W.S. Fairbanks, M.W. Eichholz, and anonymous reviewers. This study was funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W87R) and the Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
© 2018, Canadian Science Publishing. All rights reserved.
- Lynx rufus
- Odocoileus virginianus
- White-tailed deer
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology