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Trick or Treat

Posted: October 23, 2017

How many of our fawns will be ringing doorbells and toilet-papering the neighborhood this year?
One of our collared fawns, alive as of 10/20/2017 (click for larger image)

One of our collared fawns, alive as of 10/20/2017 (click for larger image)

If you’re a kid (by age or general disposition), Halloween is only second to Christmas in terms of awesomeness.  Really, does it get any better than roaming the neighborhood pretending to be anything you want and getting a sack full of candy for it?  Um, NO!

So how many of our fawns will be experiencing their first fall sugar rush?  

It’s been a while since we last checked in with the little buggers.  So let’s flash back.  

This is the 3rd and final year of the current fawn survival study.  We know the toughest time for a fawn is the first 2 months on the ground.  For the first 9 week, the class of 2017 had a survival rate just above 60%.  

2017 fawn survival graph 9 wks

As you can see, it’s still tracking the study from 15 years ago!  

What about 12 weeks?  Who was around to start the school year?

2017 fawn survival graph 12 wks

The 2000-2001 data were not calculated to 12 weeks, but if I were a gambling woman I’d bet they track the current study as well. Besides, every other study of fawn survival has found most mortality occurs in the 12 weeks after birth.

Most of our fawns are past the 19 week mark now and dressing like grown-ups.  Just under 60% of them are out there scheming for a night of mischief.  

2017 fawn survival graph 19 wks

The other ~40% will be doing the haunting on All Hallows Eve.  They met their demise like others before them – lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  Well maybe not lions and tigers but definitely bears.  Bears are still the leading predator with 8 of the 22 predator kills attributed to bruins.  Predation remains the leading cause of mortality – bears, bobcat, coyote, and man’s best friend (listed in decreasing frequency).  

Tied with our leading predator is “natural” cause of death – fawns that die without a scratch on them.  This too is a normal part of life for all species. 

We still have a few fawn carcasses in the freezer to be examined, so these numbers may change slightly but the overall message is the same.  About the same number of fawns will be trick or treating this year as have for the last 2 decades! 

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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