Understanding white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawn survival is critical for managing herd dynamics and setting effective harvest regulations. We fitted white-tailed deer fawns with radiocollars during spring 2001 (n = 35) and 2002 (n = 40) to quantify cause-specific mortality, survival, and home-range size and composition in the southwestern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, USA. We monitored fawns a minimum of twice a week until they died, were censored, or the tracking period ended. Seventeen of 75 fawns died. The primary causes of mortality were legal hunting (n = 5) and deer–vehicle collisions (n = 5). Other causes included dehydration, bacterial infection, suspected coyote (Canis latrans) predation, drowning, and malnutrition. Survival probabilities for 2001 and 2002 radiocollared fawns to 30 days postcapture were 0.97 and 0.93, respectively. Capture-to-prehunt (127 days) fawn-survival probabilities were 0.91 for 2001 fawns and 0.90 for 2002 fawns. Posthunt (220 days) fawn survival probabilities were 0.76 for 2001 fawns and 0.85 for 2002 fawns. Annual estimated fawn-survival probabilities were 0.76 for 2001 and 0.75 for 2002. Mean annual home-range size for fawns was 75.36 ha. Habitat quality and land cover and use were potential factors that contributed to our high fawn survival. Our results can aid wildlife biologists in developing, refining, and validating deer population models as well as devising and balancing white-tailed deer population management decisions in an agroforested landscape.
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Vol. 70 • No. 3