Sunday, 31 May 1998 17:00


Written by Hunters Alert
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Predators do have a serious impact on game numbers. It seems as though the whole world knows it except those who are running the show within Nevada Division of Wildlife. HUNTER'S ALERT has just received a final report dated June, 1998, "Factors Affecting Survival of Neonatal Pronghorn in the Northern Great feasin" from U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. The final report was 25 pages long but we have quoted the highlights. For years NDOW has stated that it does no good to do predator control. After reading these findings, you be the judge.

Introduction:..."the objective of this study was to identify proximate causes of fawn mortality and to determine if other factors (sex, age, body weight, birth date, health, and weather) indirectly influence mortality of fawns in the northern Great Basin."

Study Area: "We conducted the study on 2 fawning areas at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (HMNAR) in southcentral Oregon."

Methods: "We captured neonatal pronghom <1 to 4 days old and fitted each fawn with eartag mounted radio transmitters equipped with 2 hour mortality sensors during late May 1996 and 1997."

"Radio-marked fawns were monitored remotely twice daily beginning the first day a fawn was radio-marked until mid-

June and daily through mid-July.... When monitoring indicated a mortality, carcasses were located and sent to the U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center (Madison, Wisconsin, USA) for necropsy and pathological examination...We classified proximate causes of mortality into 6 categories: coyote, golden eagle, unknown predator, disease, starvation, and unknown."

Results: We captured and radio-marked 104 pronghorn fawns during the 2-year study...Seventeen (16%) fawns survived to end of study period for both years (63 and 64 days during 1996 and 1997, respectively)...Of 86 fawns that did not survive, 62 (72%) were killed by predators. Coyotes, unknown predators, and golden eagles caused 50 (81%), 9 (14%), and 3 (5%) of the mortalities attributed to predation, respectively. Unknown predators likely included coyotes and bobcats (Felis rufus). Bobcat predation was implicated in 2 fawn deaths, but were classified as unknown predator because of insufficient evidence. Average age at death was 6.3 days and 83 (97%) of the fawns that died were <21 days old. Disease and starvation accounted for 5 fawn mortalities.

Discussion: "We identified predation, primarily by coyotes, to be a significant mortality factor of fawns. Furthermore, we found no relationship between health and fawn predation during our study....Additionally, we found that average age of death was 6.3 days, when fawns were still in hiding and relatively

inactive. Apparently, fawns were killed by predators regardless of health, active or not."

Management Implications: "Our results revealed that predation, primarily by coyotes, was the primary mortality factor of fawns and was apparently independent of other mortality factors...However, previous research found that coyote removal increased rates of fawn survival and recruitment into pronghorn populations in Arizona and the National Bison Range in Montana. Predator management is justified only for areas with suitable habitat that can support larger populations of pronghorn and predation has been determined as a significant inhibitor of a pronghorn herd."

At the April 30, 1998 meeting of the Washoe County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife, Mike Nunn, Manager of the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge reported that there is a 14% decline this year in antelope numbers on top of a 50% decline last year. He also said Oregon supports a predator control program if it is focused like in Hart Mountain and Nevada doesn't support a predator program. (Emphasis added by HA)

This is just one of many scientific studies showing the impact that predators have on game numbers. The people calling the shots in NDOW have had their heads in their asses when it comes to believing predators do not have an impact on game numbers.

Last modified on Thursday, 06 May 2010 16:02
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