Top Fawn Predators
Inside the Outdoors, January 9
, 2015

I was standing on the porch of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association’s office with a wildlife conservation officer several years ago when he drew to my attention the howling coyote that was prevalent in the chill of the wintery evening. As I listened, it became apparent that a distinct sound was evident. I have never forgotten that call of the wild.

Last year, a resident that lived on the outskirts of Latrobe asked me if I had ever heard a coyote calling. Being a town dweller, I told him the story. I can only imagine that there are those who live out in the wide open spaces not only hear, but see sights we city folks will come to encounter.

A couple of weeks ago, a woman told me her story that she had heard noise down in her shed only to find out later it was a bear, which proves that one never knows what going to find where.

Just recently, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released an article titled, “Are Predators Hurting Our Deer Herd?” and pointed to the coyotes as one of those animals that are causing harm to the young deer.

As crazy as it may seem, I have always believed this to be so along with the bobcats, as well. What surprised me were the animals added to the list – bears and fishers. “The four are responsibility for killing about 22 percent of the fawns that died,” the news release stated.

Now that there has been some more substantiation concerning just what is killing the fawns in the state of Pennsylvania, the PGC has taken upon itself to do a follow-up predator study just to see what is wiping out the fawn in the Commonwealth.

According to Pennsylvania Outdoor News, “Starting this year and continuing through the end of 2017, it will be collaring fawns and following them to figure out how they die, in what numbers and what’s taking them.” One thing’s for sure, stated the PGC, “Coyote removal on a large scale is impossible.”

In addition to predator molestation, there are other reasons why fawn die. Some of these include: natural causes, struck by vehicles, and accidental demise, such as falling down a well.

“Of the fawns taken by predators, nearly equal proportions were taken by coyotes, bobcats and bears,” the release revealed.

“As part of the upcoming study,” noted above, “it is a bit different than its predecessor. It will be conducted in conjunction with ongoing deer research, which among other things, has helped to reduce costs. But importantly, the connection to existing projects will help researchers to more efficiently and effectively carry out their work.”

It went on to state, “The study calls for capturing the does this winter to implant the transmitters that signal when fawns are born. The job is made easier by the fact that some of those does already are fitted with GPS collars as part of the separate study on deer movements.”

Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said, “The time has come for new research into predator impacts on deer, and we stand to learn much from this study our staff has worked hard to develop. Hunters have made it clear. The question of how many fawns are lost to predators is on the minds of many, and this study could well help answer that question.”


So, on one case we have a deer predator problem, and on the flip side of the coin the deer themselves are the real problems, the question remains, where do we take it from here?

F or example, it’s a documented fact that more accidents are caused by deer than in Pennsylvania than in any other state. Is there a solution to this problem? Second, what could be done about the overcrowding of deer in urban neighborhoods? And third, how does one satisfy the hunter and the crop raiser at the same time? After all, it’s a known fact that deer do much damage to crops grown to provide food for man’s existence. These are all questions that don’t have simple answers and will have to be worked out if not in 2015 in the years to come.

In all considered, are the predators really problem solvers or offenders?


I just received notification that the Latrobe-based Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited has voted not have its annual fundraising banquet and raffle this year. It is usually held the beginning of March. If you see someone who may be looking to buy tickets, please advise them of this news and that you read about this news in my column.

H ope you and your family have many blessings in 2015!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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