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Relationships among Mule Deer Fawn Mortality, Coyotes, and Alternate Prey Species during Summer

Kenneth L. Hamlin, Shawn J. Riley, Duane Pyrah, Arnold R. Dood and Richard J. Mackie
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Apr., 1984), pp. 489-499
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801181
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801181
Page Count: 11
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Relationships among Mule Deer Fawn Mortality, Coyotes, and Alternate Prey Species during Summer
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Abstract

The extent, timing, and causes of summer mortality of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawns were studied in relation to coyote (Canis latrans) population level, alternate prey population levels, and coyote food habits. Additionally, fawn mortality rates were related to supplementary information on vegetation production and fawn hiding cover. A minimum of 90% of summer mortality of fawns was the result of predation by coyotes. Fawn mortality was lowest when microtine rodent populations were high. Mortality rate of fawns was not directly related to population levels of coyotes, deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), white-tailed jack rabbits (Lepus townsendii), or Nuttall's cottontails (Sylvilagus nuttallii). Vegetation production and winter snow cover may have been factors regulating microtine populations and thereby fawn mortality rates. Coyote predation can reduce fawn survival in nutritionally healthy deer populations, but alternate prey population levels and cycle phase should be determined by managers prior to decisions about predator control to increase deer populations.

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