Predators take their toll, but deer populations are stable or increasing.
by Pennsylvania Game Commission
Pennsylvania – -(Ammoland.com)-Three years of field study, 165 captured fawns and more than 200,000 trail-camera photos again have demonstrated that Pennsylvania has good, stable fawn survival.
The research, which wrapped up in 2017, was started to see if predators – particularly coyotes – were taking more fawns than documented in a two-year study that began in 2000. The Game Commission and Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State (PCFWRU) collaborated to design the study and conduct fieldwork.
Although the playing field had changed in the study areas when the second study began in 2015 – Pennsylvania had more predators and deer – the results essentially were the same, according to Christopher Rosenberry, who supervises the agency’s Deer and Elk Section.
“There was no evidence that predators were taking too many of our fawns in any of our 23 Wildlife Management Units,” Rosenberry said. “They all have stable or growing whitetail populations.”
“Our field studies have shown repeatedly that predators are the No. 1 cause of fawn mortality, and more often than not, black bears are taking the fawns,” Rosenberry said. “But fawn mortality is not causing deer-population reductions anywhere in Pennsylvania.”
Consistent fawn survival, coupled with consistent adult deer survival – 90 percent of adult deer survive from one hunting season to the next, has fostered straightforward deer management in Pennsylvania for some time, Rosenberry explained.
But even if the predator-take of fawns did impact deer populations, reductions in antlerless deer licenses would reverse their