The dawn of any capture season always brings much angst.  Fawn capture season is no exception. 

Will we catch enough fawns?  Will we catch ANY fawns? When will captures start?  Will we be ready for the birth pulse?  Will we miss the pulse?

We should just put on our shades and learn to relax.  It always works out in the end. But a little angst is good to keep us on our toes.  

The sun has just about set on fawn capture for this year.  The graph below shows the number of fawns captured by week of the year.  

  • On the left is 2015 and 2016 data combined. On the right is 2017 captures through week 24.
  • Week 18 is the first week of May. 
  • Week 22 includes the Memorial Day weekend.
  • Blue is for males, pink is for females.

Once again most fawns are born the week including June 1.

For those of us with a slight obsessive disorder, the graph on the left makes our heart sing.  It is nicely symmetric coinciding with the peak of birth. 

The graph on the right, not so much. 

Why the unappealing shape of this year’s fawn captures you ask. Two reasons.

In 2017, we fitted a lot of adult females with VITs. It was much easier to apply the VITs to mature females (>2 years old) – for smaller females the VIT simply could not be positioned properly in the birth canal. Because older, larger females are likely in better condition, their fawns are born earlier.  Consequently, we captured more fawns in week 20 this year than for the same week the previous 2 years combined.

One concern might be whether fawns born earlier in the season have a different survival rate than those born later. Previous research has shown that is not the case, but we will add to collective knowledge and test that hypothesis statistically as well.

Second, when you have smaller sample sizes it is harder to detect patterns in data. Combining fawn captures for 2015 and 2016 gives us more data.  

If we look at 2015 and 2016 separately, we see the histograms are not nearly as symmetrical in either number caught by week or in the ratio of males to females. Not good for that slight obsessive disorder.  But week 22 is still the peak birth week.

As usual everything worked out in the end.  Fawns were born and fawns were captured.  We caught “enough” and we didn’t miss the pulse.  

Are we heavenly blessed or worldly wise?  No, but things are going great.  Thanks to hard work, experience, and a little angst.  

-Duane Diefenbach

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