Population dynamics of white-tailed deer on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana
Shuman, Rebecca Marie
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Survival of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns has declined in some areas of the southeastern U.S areas, and changing predator communities may complicate deer management scenarios. During 2013-15, I monitored survival of fawns and adult females on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge (TRNWR), Louisiana. I determined cause-specific mortality and investigated variables influencing fawn survival. I used site-specific vital rates to model population trajectories and explored potential effects of changes in fawn and adult survival rates. Predation by black bear (Ursus americanus) was the greatest source of fawn mortality but appears to be partitioned with predation from other species. Fawn survival was positively correlated with birth mass and closer proximity to older reforestation sites but negatively correlated with proximity to young reforestation and cropland. Under current harvest guidelines and observed fawn survival rates, deer populations on TRNWR are sustainable, but reductions in female harvest could be considered if fawn survival decreases.