Fawn Mortality Study Shows Dismal Results

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A May 15 update on fawn mortality in southern Idaho shows the lingering winter this year has taken a deadly toll on mule deer fawns this year.

In an ongoing mule deer fawn mortality study, a part of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Mule Deer Initiative, 238 fawns were studied in 10 southern Idaho game management units. Two thirds of them had died as of May 15.

The worst hit was Unit 33 with 96 percent mortality. Fawns fared the best in Unit 76 with 38 percent mortality. Only in units 76 and 39 did more than half the fawns survive.

The total mortality rate was 68 percent. Overall, 163 fawns died as of May 15, most of them from malnutrition. The second highest cause of death was coyote predation.

The fawns entered the winter generally in good shape. But the late spring gave little relief, and the lack of available forage took its toll. Last year's fawns would have been the yearling bucks in this fall's hunt.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission already has eliminated some antlerless hunts and reduced permit numbers in the worst hit areas. Hunting may be poor in some areas, but it will be good in other parts of southern Idaho come fall.

Details of the fawn mortality study are available on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/MDI/fawn_monitoring.cfm