Research Studies - predators

Estimating Occupancy of Common White-tailed Deer Predators

Predators can have a major impact on fawn recruitment. In order to evaluate this impact, we will analyze noninvasively collected predator samples using DNA-based approaches to determine donor species, donor sex, donor-specific DNA fingerprint and determine the proportion of scat samples that contain deer DNA. These data can then be used in a broader modeling framework to estimate predator density, predator home ranges, and ultimately the potential impact of predators on deer populations in Indiana.

Within each RMU, roughly 150 miles of unpaved roads and trails were surveyed for predator scat. These routes were divided into 100 miles of drivable public roads and 50 miles of ‘off-road’ routes (e.g., farm lanes, fire lanes, ATV/hiking trails). Routes were surveyed every two weeks during June – August and January - April. All likely predator scat encountered was recorded, collected, and frozen for transport to Purdue University for later genetic analysis.

Hair samples will be collected from likely predators of fawns using two types of snare designs – a rub pad and a cubby. The rub pad design is tailored towards coyotes, while the cubby is designed to sample bobcats. Snare are deployed in pairs along areas of likely use or travel along the scat survey routes and baited with commercially available scent lures. Snares are deployed in June, checked weekly until August and then redeployed in January and checked weekly until April. All deposited hair will be recorded, collected, and transported to Purdue University for genetic analysis.