- By Matt Hayes
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Given the longitudinal nature of our research, we are able to compare variations in fawns during captures from year to year. Comparing timing, sex, size and cause of mortality of fawns helps us understand how these animals are responding to environmental conditions. These details are made more important by the fact that we can’t grow deer if we don’t have fawns; understanding the dynamics associated with fawns helps us understand this vital piece of the population.
During the 2016 season we captured 55 fawns from our collared female deer and this summer we caught 54 fawns. We noticed a shift in parturition time from 2016 to 2017, with parturition coming much earlier this year. The first live fawn was born on May 24th, compared with the 31st of May in 2016. Peak date of parturition was May 31 of this year compared to June 10th in 2016. We also saw a difference in the percentage of overall fawn loss between 2016 and 2017. In 2016 we saw a 75% mortality rate over just the summer months compared to this year at about 33% mortality of our collared fawns.
Fawns in 2017 were also generally smaller in size, which is likely correlated to shorter gestation periods and early parturition dates as compared with typical years. Average fawn weight and length in 2017 was 3.1 kg (~6.8 pounds) and 60.1 cm respectively while average fawn weight and length in 2016 was 3.8 kg (~ 8.4 pounds) and 60.5 cm respectively.