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Multiple Fawn Births

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: Here in Missouri, during the last few years, I have noticed an increase in multiple births of deer.

A few years ago I saw my first set of twins, and in the last two years I have seen several sets of triplets.

Any guesses as to what is causing this? - Stan

Multiple Fawn BirthsANSWER: In general, a doe will first be bred as a yearling and she will give birth to a singlet the following spring.

In subsequent years, an adult doe will typically give birth to twin fawns.

Habitat, and more precisely, nutrition, seems to be a key factor.

In extremely favorable circumstances, a small percentage of doe fawns will breed and some adult does will have triplets.

You didn't mention what time of year you are seeing these fawns, but if you're like most hunters, it's in the fall. That leaves four or five months for fawns to succumb to disease, predation or other sources of natural and unnatural mortality, all of which reduces the likelihood of seeing twin fawns.

When I was a much younger man, twin fawns were quite common in the areas I hunted. Then along came the eastern coyote, and everything changed.

The latest research has shown eastern coyotes are having a significant impact on deer productivity, in some cases removing as much as 30-40 percent of the annual fawn crop, often within their first two weeks of life.

I don't know what the predator population is like in your area, but I strongly suspect you don't have a lot of coyotes; for that, you should be extremely grateful. You and your hunting partners should also do what you can to ensure that remains the case.

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