The effect of predation on white-tailed deer recruitment at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center
Howze, Michael Brent
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This project investigated the effect of predation on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) recruitment in southwestern Georgia during 2007 and 2008. I removed coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus) from a 4,200-ha portion of the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Baker County, Georgia and compared recruitment rates to those in a 2,800-ha non-removal portion of the property. Fawn:doe ratios were higher in the predator removal zone than the non-removal zone as indicated by pre and post-hunting season camera surveys and hunter observations. Analysis of coyote (n=312) and bobcat (n=171) scat indicated that both predators consumed deer. However, deer remains occurred more frequently in coyote scat than in bobcat scat. Furthermore, predation on radio-collared fawns during the 2-year study indicated coyotes are the primary predator of white-tailed deer fawns. The collective data suggests that predation (primarily coyote) is limiting white-tailed deer recruitment in on this property.