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Deer Crew Diaries – Entry XVII

Posted: May 24, 2016

It has begun...
First fawn of 2016 captured on Susquehannock State Forest

First fawn of 2016 captured on Susquehannock State Forest

That’s right.  Fawns are arriving and a few have become part of the study already.

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

Where to begin?! Good news first. We radio-collared 7 fawns this week in the Susquehannock and had 3 VITs expelled. Bad news? 1 fawn slipped a collar and none of the VITs resulted in fawn captures. Nevertheless, it was a successful first full week of fawn searching.

Of the 16 VITs deployed this winter, we've had 5 expelled already, 4 of which were found in or directly adjacent to what appeared to be potential birthing sites. The doe was usually still in the area, within a couple hundred meters of where we retrieved the VIT. However even with a search party of 6 or 7 people on the ground, we came up empty-handed each time.  It's worth mentioning that one of my winter trapping crew members who is currently working on a white-tailed deer study in South Dakota, said they used 10 VITs last year, but didn't find a single fawn with any of them. Somehow that makes me feel better...

Since a mama doe wouldn't stray too far from her precious fawns in the first day, we attempted to walk in on each doe and search that area as well. The last few does were bedded down when we walked in so we actually saw them briefly as they ran off.  But we could not get a read on their body language.birth site

The 5th VIT was found with the tip of the antenna & the plastic wings chewed off lying about 3 meters from what looked to be the birthing site (photo at right). This VIT was expelled at 3AM but I didn't receive the expulsion email until 4PM that afternoon [the collar was probably not able to communicate with the satellite - it happens occasionally]. We retrieved the VIT at 6:30PM the same day, but by that time it's hard to say what was gnawing on the VIT. Our doe? A hungry squirrel? Curious bobcat? It's anyone's guess really. But judging by the size of this doe's birth canal during our VIT insertion this winter, she has given birth a time or two (or three) before.

As we get closer to peak fawning season, I have high hopes for this upcoming week!

-Hannah
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:

Hi all,

We’ve seen a number of large does, but no signs of fawns yet. This is comparable to how the beginning of fawning season went last year in the South.  Last year, we found very few fawns before starting to search hay fields at the beginning of June. With the thick understory in both Rothrock and Bald Eagle, it is hard to see adult deer from the roads, let alone try to locate fawns.

Thus far, we have seen deer in both the fields and forests but none with fawns.  Some people we’ve talked to are wondering why we are searching for fawns so soon.  Well folks, we’ve heard that there are fawns out there already; we just have to find them! We also caught a glimpse of our first black bear of the year in Bald Eagle. 

Eastern Box Turtle

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) flowering


With peak fawning season right around the corner, will the fawns bless us with their presence this week?  We sure hope so!  Stay tuned to find out! 

 

April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
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