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Factors Behind Fawn Mortality

Predators like coyotes and bears take their fair share of fawns, but are they the biggest cause of death?

Factors Behind Fawn Mortality

Research is showing that fawn mortality is more complex than just blaming it on predators like coyotes, bears, and bobcats. (Donald M. Jones photo —

There have been lots of studies on fawn survival and what kills fawns during their first six months of life. One obvious answer is predators — particularly coyotes.

Using DNA, researchers can confirm that coyotes ate a fawn, but DNA does not prove that they killed that fawn. It could have died of starvation, abandonment, disease, or other things, and then was found by a coyote.

In fact, the study of fawn survival is complicated by many variables and how those variables interact. A fawn could be malnourished because the mother didn’t do her job. If she selected poor habitat, wasn’t in the best condition, or was young when she gave birth, her fawns might...

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