INFLUENCE OF PREDATION ON WHITE-TAILED DEER POPULATIONS IN THE VIRGINIA APPALACHIANS
SCI Foundation is partnering with Virginia Tech to collar bears in the spring of 2018 before the peak fawning period to potentially capture a predation spike. This project will continue to monitor the bear population in the area and will present be a unique opportunity to study the entire carnivore guild. Researchers will also be using novel methods to determine whether predator diet samples represent actual predation or scavenging behavior.
The project will correspond with an upcoming Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries study on does and fawns, completing the predator-prey picture. Ultimately, data will used be used by wildlife managers in the department to update white-tailed deer and predator management plans and set hunting regulations.
Species involved: White-Tailed Deer, Coyotes, Bobcats, Black Bears
Project partners: Virginia Tech, College of Natural Resources and Environment
Total SCIF Investment: $42,000 via Hunter Legacy Fund (Future funding need: $15,000)
Year SCIF began involvement: 2017 (Project timeline: 2017-2019)
1) Monitor habitat use of coyotes, bobcats, and bears to assess predation versus scavenging in the study area.
2) Evaluate rates of carcass scavenging by coyotes, bobcats, and bears.
3) Develop and implement methods to identify individual deer in predator scats using DNA methods.
Predation on fawns and adults can be an important limiting factor on some white-tailed deer populations. In Virginia, potential predators include coyotes, bobcats, and black bears. Comparable to the Michigan Predator-Prey Project, this allows for an accurate evaluation of white-tailed deer population trends in the region. The take-away will be a sustainable management plan utilizing the best available science.
Want to learn more about the project? Visit SCIF’s First for Wildlife blog.