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The Impacts of Wolves on Deer in the Upper Peninsula

Annual Deer Mortality in the Upper Peninsula

A doe, a deer, a female deer.White-tailed deer provide food, sport, income and viewing opportunities to Upper Peninsula (UP) residents and visitors. In some areas, deer overabundance results in damage to farm crops, deer-vehicle accidents, and suppression of forest vegetation. Historically, deer abundance in the UP has been affected by the intensity of timber harvesting and winter severity. Although these factors still exert a strong influence on deer populations, the role of predation is getting more attention by both sportspersons and deer managers.

Deer survival is influenced by many factors including disease, predation, weather and hunter harvest. In the UP, deer survival is especially influenced by winter food supply and cover. Predators also play a role in the survival of deer, particularly fawn survival during the spring and summer. Some predators are able to take deer of any age, while other predators are able to catch fawns only during the first couple weeks of life. Research is being conducted in the UP to better understand the impact of predation on deer, while also determining how predation is influenced by winter weather and deer habitat conditions.

The research project will occur in a low snowfall zone, mid-snowfall zone, and high snowfall zone in the UP. The objectives of this long-term research study are to:

  1. estimate survival and sources of mortality of fawns and does;
  2. estimate fawn mortality due to specific predators;
  3. estimate home range size, movements and habitats used by deer and predators;
  4. estimate abundance of deer, black bear, bobcats, coyotes and wolves in the study area; and,
  5. improve understanding of predator/prey interactions to enhance wildlife management.

Additional information about this research project can be found at www.fwrc.msstate.edu/carnivore/predatorprey.

Related information on deer predators: identifying wolves and coyotes.