By Scott Bestul
Only 2 out of every 10 newborn whitetails will survive a year in northern Wisconsin, if one year of research done by Badger State scientists proves a trend. DNR researchers captured and radio-collared 30 fawns in the spring of 2011; by April of this year only 6 were still alive.
Predation was the leading cause of mortality, accounting for 15 dead fawns (bears killed 5, “unknown predators” took another five, bobcats nailed 4 fawns, coyotes got one, and “unidentified canid” took another). Hunters, poachers, vehicle collisions and another “unknown” rounded out the list.
This 80% fawn mortality rate is only the beginning of data the WDNR is gleaning from a multi-year mortality study. In the winter of 2010, researchers began capturing adult deer in two study areas; one located in the heavily-forested northern part of the state, the other in central Wisconsin, where agriculture is more prevalent. Fawns were captured and collared beginning in the spring of 2011. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the $2 million study is being funded by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund.