The Orphan Fawns and culls

Buckmanager, Dec 15, 2008To begin, whitetail fawns are usually weaned and become functioning ruminants at eight weeks of age. Most fawns at southern latitudes are born in late May and June, meaning the majority of fawns are weaned by the end of August. And this makes sense from a biological perspective, because as late-summer food sources deplete the doe can then rely on the fawn to nourish itself. This covers the majority of whitetail fawns that hunters will encounter in the field during the fall hunting season.

In general, harvesting does with fawns will not impact an individual fawn, unless the fawn is less than two months in age. Fawns older than two months, found in areas with good habitat, are just as likely to survive after the doe is removed.

The First Months, 5 November 2010, Warnell School of Forest Resources, The University of Georgia
At about 2 weeks of age fawns begin experimenting with tender vegetation. By watching its mother feed, and by experimenting on its own, the fawn soon learns what foods to select. After about 2 months of age, the 4-chambered stomach is fully developed and the fawn likely could survive without its mother’s milk. However, fawns will continue to nurse until they are 4 or 5 months of age, or longer if the doe lets them.

WHITETAIL DEER – FAWNS, suwanneeriverranch.comA doe will sometimes protect her fawn if the predator is small, but more often she will not. The mother-fawn bond can also be broken in cases of starvation in which a doe will drive her own fawn away from a food source. That is nature’s strict law for the species: the most likely to survive come first. A doe can make more fawns, but she must be fed, alive and healthy to do it. Deer form small groups for much of the year. There are two kinds of deer groups. One is a mother deer and her fawns. One female deer may have up to three fawns at a time. The other type of group is made up of between three and five bucks.

Bucks try to prove their dominance (who’s toughest and in charge) by ramming each other, as well as kicking and flailing with their legs. Bucks also mark their territory by making rubbing their antlers on trees.

A doe has from one to three fawns in a litter. It usually depends on the age of the doe and how much food is around. Fawns stay with their mother for almost a year. She drives them off before she has a new litter.

The White-tailed Deer
Since mating season occurs in the fall, springtime is when whitetail doe tend to have their young. The average gestation period of the whitetail deer doe in North America is 200 to 205 days. This period can be shorter or longer depending on the availability of food. When food is plentiful the fawn will be born after a shorter gestation time while the opposite would be true if the food supply is scarce.As a general rule, most doe end up only having one fawn the first time; however, the following years they are more likely to have twins, and it’s really not uncommon for them to have triplets in some cases as well. Once she has her young, she is on her own raising her young.

Even after she begins taking out the fawns with her looking for food, they are usually not totally weaned until they are about 8-10 weeks old, meaning that she is quite tied down to them for some time.

Another interesting fact about whitetail deer doe in the spring is that this is the time when she often kicks out young males who were born the year before. Usually young bucks stay with their mother until they are almost a year old, but during the spring they usually leave on their own or the females will drive them away. On the other hand, young females often will stay with their mother for up to two years, and even then they usually stay in the same general area as their mother. However, once it is time for the doe to have a new litter of fawns, she often will return to her preferred fawning area in the spring, excluding the rest of her previous fawns from the area.

The Ann Arbor cull, as in most culls, occur in Winter months (after aerial survey– best with snow on the ground).
Since most fawns are dropped in May, the majority of fawns at the time of a cull are 7-8 months old.

The “orphan” fawns are then self sufficient and used to roaming around with the “herd”.

“Even before the fawns have matured.”

I can’t begin to tell you all the misrepresentations that were listed in the Stop the Shoot ad in the October Observer.

This is one– “Kill our deer, even before the fawns have matured”


Fawns are weaned by the time they are 10 weeks old.

By September, fawns are self-sufficient and remain with their mother for purely social reasons.

A cull will take place during the winter months and the HSHV knows that, but continues to beat this lie to death.

Deer are matrilineal. The home range of the mother is less than a square a mile in diameter. Her daughters establish home ranges that overlaps hers. Subsequent generations continue to overlap the original doe’s home range in a pattern resembling rose petals. The original doe is the matriarch of this “herd”. A doe may live to up to 15 years— that is as many as 13 sets of fawns, 13 generations for each doe— so the size of a matriarch’s herd can get quite large. During most of the year, you will see herds of just does and fawns.

Bucks have a slightly larger individual home range. The normal range for a buck is 1.25 miles, though it may travel up to 10 miles to find a doe in heat.

The rutting season for deer runs from October through January.
Fawns are born from May through June. Even those dropped at the end of June will be self sufficient in mid-September.

Most adult does produce 2 fawns a year, but as many as 20% will produce triplets.
Some of those female fawns, depending on weight, will breed their first fall. So those fawns who were born in May and have eaten well, will reach puberty, go into heat, and breed this first year. Most of these young mothers only have 1 fawn.

Just as a side note: There is and estimated 1.75 million deer in Michigan, the majority in the lower peninsula.

Fawn sightings and deer accidents, Spring 2015

New deer tracking

P0000117 (2)I had said that we would track where the deer were during February and March 2015, and I think we accomplished this — for at least the Neighborhoods in my network of “Nextdoor” neighbors. You can see that the deer are heavily present in Ward 1 and 2, though there are some cropping up around the city. I did not to enter areas where I had seen deer in the past (like on the corner of Crestlawn and St. Francis), though not during this time period, and I did not enter records sent me from people who said they had seen them in certain places “in the past”.

On the older map, I also indicated where deer accidents and deaths occurred and where a coyote was sighted.

I would like to create another map now that continues to track deer incidents/accidents AND lets us see where and when the fawns show up.

So, unless you live outside Ward 1 and 2– please no more deer sightings– with the exception of accidents. I will add new deer reports, from other wards to the older map.
BUT everyone– love to see where and how many fawns you see.
Thanks for your help.

Deer Destruction and Danger

In addition to being very concerned about the fact that deer often give birth in my yard– thus endangering the three little girls next door as well as my dog, I am also increasingly frustrated about the destruction to my yard.

Twenty eight years ago, I planted a yew hedge across the front of our two lots. The night before we left in January, there were four deer eating this hedge. They have already destroyed greenery which was planted to hide the tennis court and destroyed probably 10 -15 yews and other greens in my back yard which we pulled out last spring. Red twig dogwood, a dogwood tree, trillium, hosta, etc. have also been eaten.

Who wants to –or can afford to continue to re-landscape? Who wants to live in a neighborhood where one’s yard in constantly under assault? Perhaps we can get permission to built higher fences in the back but won’t it be sad to see all of the front yards destroyed for lack of another deterrent? The city planning department allowed a 19 foot high garage to be built one foot from our property line but I can’t grow evergreens to hide this building in my back yard!!

Would Tanya and her group believe that I should remove thousands of dollars worth of evergreens in order to plant boxwood because they are not as tasty to the deer? The problem with that is that the harsh winter last year also destroyed many of my boxwood. I find the ‘solutions’ to be poorly reasoned and unworkable. To see the yard which I planned and planted over almost three decades destroyed, is very upsetting.

Thus, I am saying again that there is an emotional as well as a financial cost to the deer problem. I wish those who want to protect the deer would give very, very exact descriptions of which foliage one should use and who will pay to remove the old and plant the new. I would also point out that sprays are totally impractical for those of us who are gone a lot. Perhaps those who think things are fine, might agree to a new tax which could be used to compensate those of us who are feeding the deer with our landscaping…..well we know that won’t happen:). I would like to see at minimum, a harsh fine for those who feed the deer.

-Sue C. Ward 1


Deer attacks dog in Ann Arbor Hills

Ward 2

Early Friday morning, our Golden Retriever, Gracie was viciously attacked by a deer. Gracie had run into the back wooded corner of our yard (as seen below) and came flying back out —chased by a deer who proceeded to kick and stomp her. I ran out in my bathrobe screaming, running at them, waving a tennis ball flinger but he deer was unfazed. Gracie cowered and eventually got away, limping and shaking. Our vet, Mike Darga checked her out and said that she was very bruised and battered but would be ok and with the help of some anti inflammatory meds, she is much better.

The video below of a deer attacking a dog she believed to be a threat to her fawn is horrible to watch but it is exactly what I saw happening. Neighbors have seen a fawn in our area and we now believe that the attack on our dog was due to the deer protecting her baby.

deer attacks petsDeer have been devouring our yard for years and this spring, we took out 14 more ruined yews.
The hungry deer continue to come right up to the edge of the patio (below) and chomp away at a remaining yew hedge with no fear of us at all. We have installed 8 foot fencing in the back but it clearly hasn’t been enough of a deterrent.

We are concerned that neighborhood children may be in great danger of a similar attack and apparently, it is not uncommon for deer to attack hunters and others especially when the deer are protecting their young.

In addition to warning neighbors, I again wish to urge our city government to act on this serious problem. Deer carry ticks which lead to Lyme Disease and auto accidents are surely going to happen with the herds of hungry deer wandering in our neighborhood.

Sue Chandler, Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Hills

The new season is starting

Ward 2

There was a doe walking in our yard, just behind one of our gardens last week. I took a picture or two then my husband went out to shoo the deer away, as we usually do. The doe left our yard, after a bit of encouragement.

According to UM George Reserve Study, this fawn will conservatively represent 40 deer in 5 years

According to UM George Reserve Study, this fawn will conservatively represent 52 deer in 5 years

My husband came into the house and said there was a baby in the yard. I went out looking and didn’t see anything. No, he said, in the garden. And so it was– right there in the garden. We didn’t know how young it was, but it just lay there, not moving, and in spite of the fact I was almost in its face– I think it was hoping we didn’t see it.

After a few pictures, we left it alone. We went out a few times during the late afternoon and early evening to check on it. Thought it had left, but found that it had moved and was now ensconced under our peony tree.

P0000119 (2)Later, when I looked at my camera, I saw that Mom and baby were both standing just before my husband ran out to scare the doe off. Hadn’t seen the baby before.

Thought about the fawn, what it would grow up to, my garden and my inability to grow most things because of deer damage. The fact that the deer have stripped the trees and bushes behind the garden so I now have lost my privacy, and all the deer waste that is scattered over my yard. I thought I should do something now about this baby– but I couldn’t. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support an initiative to cull the herd– starting with the 16 or so that run though my yard regularly and decrease my enjoyment of my property.