Study to Evaluate Status of the Deer Herd in the North Georgia Mountains

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Resources Division has documented a declining trend in deer harvest on 8 wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the northern Georgia mountains.  This declining trend may be a function of factors such as predation and inadequate food availability.  However, additional information is needed before management strategies can be prescribed.  In other locations, predation is considered a common source of fawn mortality.  In the North Georgia mountains, coyotes and bobcats are believed to be abundant and black bear numbers have increased during the same period when deer numbers have declined. In addition, limited timber management in northern Georgia has resulted in forest maturation and low availability of early successional habitats, which means less fruit, browse, and hiding cover for deer.  To investigate what is causing the decline, Dr. Miller and Dr. D’Angelo with the help of Dr. Andrew Little and graduate students Cheyenne Yates and Adam Edge have begun a research project funded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  The objectives are to examine survival and cause-specific mortality of deer fawns, and to evaluate home range size and habitat selection of female deer and fawns.