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FMSI – Head and Shoulder Take 2

Posted: August 5, 2015

Wait a minute, didn’t our team already solve this case?
Fawn skull with midline puncture wound

Fawn skull with midline puncture wound

Yes we did, but that was for fawn 9152. Fawn 8854 landed on our table in a similar state – a head and left front limb. Can anyone say déjà vu?

Fawn 8854 was captured on May 28 and weighed a whopping 11 lbs. It was recovered on June 11. Unfortunately, with only a partial carcass, no weight could be assigned. We started working with what we had.

The right side of the skull had 4 punctures, 2-4 mm in diameter. Two were along the midline and were significant.

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The midline puncture wound damaged brain tissue and was fatal to this fawn.

In cases like this, significant means survival with this type of injury is highly unlikely. Read significant as “it would kill you.” These punctures were associated with a large depression fracture. There were multiple other fractures to the skull as well, all connected.

We had made our determination but, of course, needed to consult the field report.

As we suspected, evidence of coyote was plentiful at the recovery site including scat and hair. What little remained of the carcass was cached in a steep ravine with a power line. It took the recovery team over a day to find the carcass.

Why? Because it kept moving.

The mortality signal was sent on June 10th at 0700. The team searched until noon then the signal went live, which means the carcass was moved. At 1600, a mortality signal was sent again. This time they searched until 1945 (7:45 pm). When they checked on June 11th at 0600, the signal was live but they continued to search and found the carcass at 0830.

The guilty party was even heard while the team processed the site.

It is not surprising that coyotes can be added to the list of suspects. While coyotes are often held in disdain and blamed for a lot of fawn mortalities, this is only one of two coyote kills we have processed to date.

Right now, coyotes are not leading the pack.

-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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