Deer Crew Diaries - Entry XIX
Posted: June 8, 2016
There is a very narrow window to capture fawns. It closes more and more each day. Crews are racing (literally and figuratively) to catch as many as possible before it closes completely.
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
From the Northern Crew:
Dear deer people,
Expectations were high going into this week as the traditional peak of the fawn season approached. This week we managed to find another 8 fawns, bringing our total number of captures to 23. Tuesday also brought with it our first known mortality of the season. We tracked the signal to the top of a mountain and found the collar and one ear tag about four feet apart. Upon closer inspection, we found drag marks, pieces of the fawn’s skull, fawn hair, and a tuft of long, black hair.
Wednesday was our first day without Hannah [No worries, Hannah just took a few days off. She will be back soon], but she trained us well. The day started out with three “spicy” fawns that were a little too old and fast for us to catch, including one that crossed a stream in two bounds. We managed to redeem ourselves with two young fawns in the southern portion of our study area. One fawn stood still until I was about five feet away, then it decided to lower its head and lay down to become “invisible.”
We started early on Thursday to walk in on a VIT expulsion. We could only pick up the signal from Route 6 and had to gain access through private property. We found the VIT in a birth site which also had a dead fawn presumed to be stillborn. We grid-searched the area and found another fawn on our second sweep. We must have hit some of the areas pretty hard as we observed several collared fawns. Hopefully, we can find a few more over the next couple of weeks.
Other news: We found several wood turtles this week and assisted them across the road. While demonstrating the methods used to age/sex a wood turtle, one urinated on me. Although Kate found this hilarious, I was excited because this is often a sign of gravidity in females and, sure enough, eggs could be felt through palpation.
Fawn Capture Crew
From the Southern Crew:
The fawns are already running!! I can count the number of fawns on two hands that we’ve missed within the last four days. We have captured a total of 14 fawns, with 10 of those being before June 1st.
Last year, the Southern Study Area record was 18, with only two fawns being captured before June 1st. With the success that our crew had before June 1st, I thought for sure that we could easily beat last year’s record. Here we are June 5th and we have already been skunked by a number of fawns in the last four days.
I’m extremely proud of my crew though. They’ve been working so hard and even when they come back with another story of an uncaptured fawn, they are still keeping at it and continue to put in long days in the field.
On Memorial Day, Julie, Sarah and I were called into work to investigate our third and final expelled VIT. We located the VIT and birth site very easily, but did not find any fawns. We attempted to sneak in on the doe on Tuesday to see if she was with any fawns; however, she was smarter than us. We searched the area again, but found nothing. Apparently, this mama really knew how to hide her fawn(s).
We still had an exciting week though! On Tuesday, while conducting a mort run [checking collars to see if any are in mortality mode] in the morning, Levi and I noticed a doe with a deeply arched back standing in a pasture. We couldn’t see more than her head and back at times, but she was bending over and continuously licking at her back end. We watched her for a while and came to the conclusion that she had most likely just given birth or was giving birth at that moment. We remained inconspicuous and decided to return in about 5-6 hours in case she needed to have time to bond with her fawn(s). We returned and located a birthing site where she had been standing with a very small amount of blood present.
However, the edge of the pasture had also been cut, so we became worried. We quickly searched the area and found a fawn on the edge of the woods next to the pasture. We processed her and placed her back where we found her.
As we watched from a distance, the fawn ran into the pasture. We spoke with the farmer and let him know that the fawn was there. He mentioned that he scared a doe and fawn from the pasture about 30 minutes after Levi and I saw the doe that morning.
On Friday night, Kara and I found a doe that was clearly having contractions. Her behavior was identical to the doe that Levi and I found on Tuesday, only we had a clear view of this doe. We did not watch her for very long as to avoid disturbing her. Talk about exciting! We also saw one of our collared yearlings Friday night.
Wednesday and Thursday we found our first Bald Eagle fawns.
An exciting week. I just really hope that we can have at least a few more surprise captures!
Wish us luck!
Field Crew Leader