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Michigan Begins Fawn Survival Study

From the Michigan DNR

-- The Department of Natural Resources today announced the start of a new research project in the Upper Peninsula. The project will investigate the role of predators, winter weather and habitat on white-tailed deer fawn survival. The study is being conducted in portions of Menominee and Delta counties.

DNR Wildlife Research Biologist Dr. Dean Beyer said deer survival is influenced by many factors including disease, predation, weather, habitat and hunter harvest.

“Winter weather and the intensity of timber harvesting historically have been important factors affecting deer numbers in the UP. The recovery of large predators and the potential role of predation on deer numbers have interested the DNR and sportspersons for a number of years,” Beyer said.

Researchers will capture pregnant white-tailed does during winter and attach radio transmitters that will signal when fawns are born. The newborn fawns will be captured during spring and fitted with radio-collars to study their survival and causes of death. Black bears, wolves, coyotes and bobcats also will be fitted with global positioning system collars to help researchers estimate the number of fawns killed by each species during the summer.

Researchers will investigate the role of winter weather and habitat quality on deer survival by analyzing fat content and other body condition indicators during late winter. Understanding the factors that affect white-tailed deer survival, and how they work together to influence deer predation, is important.

“We are very interested in obtaining the information from this study to help inform management decisions for both deer and predators,” said Beyer.

This study is a cooperative effort between the DNR and Mississippi State University. Funding is being provided by the Michigan Involvement Committee of Safari Club International, Safari Club International Foundation, and Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration funds. Additional support will be sought from local wildlife organizations.

The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use, and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources for current and future generations.

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