Survival estimates of white-tailed deer fawns at Fort Rucker, Alabama
Type of Degreethesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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Decreases in recruitment of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns have been noted at several locations across the Southeast. Understanding the reason for these decreases is important for management of deer populations. We monitored fawns from birth until 6 months to examine age- and cause-specific rates of mortality, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, a location that has experienced substantial decreases in fawn recruitment, deer population density, and hunter success. This study, like other recent studies in the Southeast, has found that low fawn recruitment seems to be driven by greater levels of coyote (Canis latrans) predation than originally believed. Coyotes are a recent addition to the predator community of the Southeast, but how their addition will ultimately affect deer populations remains unknown. Predator-prey theory predicts a variety of future scenarios concerning predation rates, deer density, and responses to alternative management strategies. We describe these alternative theories in regard to the current state of knowledge.