Mississippi State University Carnivore Ecology Laboratory

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Study Design

Objectives

Estimate survival and cause-specific mortality of white-tailed deer fawns and does.

Estimate proportion of fawn mortality attributable to black bear (Ursus americanus), coyote (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and wolf (C. spp.).

Estimate number and age of fawns killed by a bear, coyote, bobcat, or wolf during summer.

Provide updated information on white-tailed deer pregnancy and fecundity rates.

Estimate annual and seasonal resource use (e.g., habitat) and home range of white-tailed deer.

Estimate if familiarity of an area to each predator species affects the likelihood of fawn predation.

Assess if estimated composite bear, coyote, bobcat, and wolf use of an area influences fawn predation rates.

Describe association between fawn birth site habitat characteristics and black bear, coyote, bobcat, or wolf habitat use.

Estimate seasonal resource use (e.g., habitat, prey) and home range size of black bear, coyote, bobcat and wolf.


Study Area

Phase 1

This study is centered on a ~900 km2sup> (~350 mi2) area within Deer Management Unit (DMU) 055 in Menominee County. The general study area is bordered on the east by the shoreline of Lake Michigan, on the north by US Highway 2, on the west by US Highway 41, and the south by the town of Stephenson. The core study area includes a mix of forested and agricultural lands and is where capture efforts occur. The overall study area consists of a minimum convex polygon that includes the composite locations of telemetered animals. This study area was selected because of the relatively low snowfall and generally low winter severity. Deer in this area are generally migrate only short distances or are non-migratory, making direct comparisons to southern Michigan (i.e., Pusateri Burroughs et al. 2006) easier.

Phase 2

The second phase of this study spans about 1,000 km2 (386 mi2) within Deer Management Unit (DMU) 036 in Iron County (Figure 1). The general study area boundaries follow State Highway M-95 on the east, US Highway 41/28 on the north, US Highway 141 on the west, and State Highway M-69 on the south. The core study area, where most capture efforts and population surveys will occur, is north of the Michigamme Reservoir and includes state forest, commercial forest association, and private lands. The overall study area will comprise a minimum convex polygon that will include the composite locations of all telemetered animals. We selected this study area because it occurs within the mid-snowfall range, receiving about 180 cm of snowfall annually (about 53 cm more snowfall annually than the phase 1 study area near Escanaba). Deer in this area migrate longer distances and exhibit yarding behavior during most winters as compared to Escanaba where deer migrate only short distances or are non-migratory (Beyer et al. 2010) and yard less frequently. After completing this portion of the study, a third and final study site will be selected in the high-snowfall zone of the Upper Peninsula.

Phase 3

The third phase of this study spans about 1,550 km2 (598 mi2) within Deer Management Unit (DMU) 031 in Baraga, Houghton and Ontonagon Counties (Figure 7). The general study area boundaries follow US Highway 41/141 on the east, State Highway M-38 on the north, US Highway 45/ State Highway M-26 on the west, and State Highway M-28 on the south. Dominant land cover classes are deciduous (35%), evergreen (23%), and mixed forests (21%). Road density is low across the study area at 0.62 km/km2 but higher densities do occur around few small towns on the periphery. The core study area, where we conducted most capture efforts and population surveys, is centered on National Forest Rd 16 and almost exclusively within Ottawa National Forest. The final study area will comprise a minimum convex polygon that will include the composite locations of all telemetered animals. We selected this study area because it occurs within the high-snowfall range, receiving over 250 cm of snowfall annually (about 70 cm more snowfall annually than the Phase 2 study area near Crystal Falls).

Click here for a pdf map of Michigan's Deer Management Units.

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