Deer Science: What Causes Most Fawn Deaths?

nj fawn

Our friend Jeff saw this newborn on his New Jersey farm last Saturday. If the little deer can make it until early August, its chances of survival soar. Scientists note that most fawn deaths occur in the first 12 weeks of life.

A grad student at Penn State’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management examined the causes of fawn deaths listed in 29 different populations, and calculated the proportion of fawns that died from each of 3 categories: human, predation, and natural causes.

coyote wiht fawn

Not surprisingly predators, namely coyotes, bobcats, bears and dogs, killed the most fawns, about 25% of them in the populations studied.

About 8% of fawns died from natural causes like starvation, disease, hypothermia and drowning.

About 5% of fawns died from human causes (cars to combines to indirect causes, like getting tangled in a fence). The researchers noted that while we humans are the smallest source of mortality for whitetail fawns, it is worth noting as the human impact moves into more and more areas.

On the flip (and good) side 55% of fawns survive.