Michigan Predator Prey Project

In the mid-1990s, the population of white-tailed deer in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan declined.  Michigan and Mississippi State University Researchers are now estimating the effect of multiple predators on white-tailed deer fawn survival, while including information on how survival is influenced by winter conditions.

Species involved: White-Tailed Deer, Black Bears, Gray Wolves, Coyotes, Bobcats

Project partners: Mississippi State University, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan SCI Chapters

Total SCIF Investment: $500,000 + (With help from HLF and Michigan SCI Chapters)

Year SCIF began involvement: 2008 (Timeline: 2008-2020)


Project Objectives

1) Estimate white-tailed deer population trends and productivity in northern Michigan.

2) Determine the impact of predation on fawns and adults over multiple years.

3) Examine spatial and ecological relationships between deer and their primary predators in region, including black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and wolves.


Anticipated Outcomes

Since its inception in 2008, the Michigan predator-prey project has become one of our flagship projects in North America. We have defined the relative importance of various predators (including black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and wolves), winter severity and habitat quality in white-tailed deer survival and productivity. The lessons learned have influenced harvest regulations and forest management to benefit deer in Michigan. This project was recognized for its influence on deer management by the Michigan DNR and led to the formation of the Upper Peninsula Habitat Workgroup.


Recent Project Update

We received a quarterly progress report from the flagship Michigan predator‐prey project for the period December 2018‐March 2019. This winter period is one of the most active in terms of capture and marking activities. During the period, researchers captured 110 white‐tailed deer and fitted 33 adult females with GPS collars and vaginal implant transmitters (to aid in fawn capture). They lost 13 deer due to predation (n = 9), hunter harvest (n = 1) and other causes. They also performed den checks on eight adult black bears and documented three new cubs from one female. Remote camera surveys and hair collection for bobcats continued per project plans.

Want to learn more about the project?  Check out these posts on our First for Wildlife blog.

March 19, 2015 – http://wp.me/p2AKuX-qq

October 8, 2015 – http://wp.me/p2AKuX-vB

November 20, 2014 – http:/wp.me/p2AKuX-o6

March 6, 2014 – http://wp.me/p2AKuX-hT

September 17, 2013 – http://wp.me/p2AKuX-ek

July 25, 2013 – http://wp.me/p2AKuX-d1