Cumberland Times-News


June 15, 2013

Fewer W. Md. fawns survive

It’s true. Based upon a variety of monitoring techniques, what the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service calls fawn recruitment is declining.

A fawn is considered to be recruited if it has survived into the fall and winter hunting seasons.

Basically put, fawn recruitment is the number of surviving fawns per adult doe.

“We use our deer season harvest data. We age deer taken to meat processors. For 10 years we have been analyzing the observations of bowhunters,” said Brian Eyler, the agency’s deer project leader.

So what are the fawn recruitment numbers for Almost Maryland?

Eyler said Allegany County’s numbers have been basically stable, ranging from 0.6 fawns per doe in the early 1990s to a recent number of 0.4.

In Garrett County, there were 0.7 fawns per doe in the 1990s and 0.8 in 2000.

“Since then, there has been a steady decline in Garrett,” Eyler said. “This past season the number was 0.3.”

Based upon the existing deer population in Garrett and the regulations for the upcoming hunting season, Eyler said, however, that “the sky is not falling.”

Hunter behavior, Eyler said, can throw a twist into the calculation of the fawn recruitment rate. In other words, biologists may be seeing fewer fawns at butcher shops because hunters aren’t shooting them.

“There is a lot of hunting now that is based upon recognizing what you are shooting,” Eyler said. “Some hunters are trying not to shoot button bucks or trying to take only a big, adult doe for their antlerless tag. This selectivity could make the fawn recruitment look lower than it is.”

Eyler said he is not losing any sleep over the health of the deer herd in far Western Maryland.

“There are plenty of deer out there,” he said, referring to the herds as being stable and healthy.

However, the fawn recruitment rate makes Eyler concerned about any change in regulations that would increase the antlerless harvest.

Such a change would be the requirement that buck hunters kill only animals with three points on one side.

“That requirement would take 85 percent of the antlered deer killed in Garrett County off the table,” Eyler said. “The hunters who aren’t shooting a buck would shift over and take an antlerless deer. That could increase the antlerless take there by 50 percent.”

During the most recent seasons, about 1,900 antlerless deer were killed in Garrett County, according to Eyler.

Eyler said biologists just don’t have the regulation wiggle room that existed a decade ago.

It is a fact that coyotes, bears, bobcats and even fishers kill and eat fawns, according to Eyler. The difficult part is putting a number on that mortality, said Eyler, who hopes to get funding to study the predation of fawns.

In 2012, 92 bears were killed in Maryland by hunters. The most in any previous year had been 68 in 2009. A dead bear won’t kill and eat a fawn.

Eyler points out that the fawn recruitment numbers and other statistics used to gauge the health of a deer herd are similar in other regional states, all of which have varying sets of harvest regulations. “This isn’t just a Maryland situation,” he said.

“One thing we have going for us in Maryland is that our fawns are born in late May and early June, a pretty tight window,” Eyler said.

“In the south, where there is an extended breeding season, coyotes can pick off fawns for more than six months.”

The deer hunting regulations will remain the same for Region A, which includes Garrett, Allegany and the western portion of Washington counties.

One antlered deer and one antlerless deer will be allowed in each of the bow, muzzleloader and modern firearms seasons.

Regulations for the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 seasons will be established a year from now.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at


Text Only
  • Big Fish

    SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has recognized anglers who reside within the circulation area of the Cumberland Times-News for catching trophy rainbow trout.

    April 12, 2014

  • Sharpshooters whack more deer in park

    THURMONT, Md. (AP) — The National Park Service says government  sharpshooters killed 156 white-tailed deer in the fifth year of a herdreduction
    program at Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont.

    April 12, 2014

  • Club meeting today at 3 p.m.

    WESTERNPORT — The Upper Potomac Rod and Gun Club will meet Sunday
    at 3 p.m. at the Westernport American Legion, according to Gordon Green, 301-

    April 12, 2014

  • Political effort fails to stop Nebraska mountain lion hunts

    LINCOLN, Neb. — Recently, the Nebraska Senate failed to override the  governor’s veto of LB 671—the mountain lion hunting ban. Pushed by Senator Ernie Chambers, the motion which needed 30 votes to pass only garnered 24 yes votes.

    April 12, 2014

  • Turkey calling contest scheduled

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Outdoor Club at Potomac State College of West Virginia
    University will sponsor a wild turkey calling contest Tuesday in the Davis Conference Center.

    April 12, 2014

  • Another Pa. deer has CWD

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Jefferson County deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, marking the seventh case in a captive or wild deer since 2012.

    April 12, 2014

  • Bear Watch

    The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is advising Western Maryland residents to take measures to avoid unwelcome visits from hungry black bears.
    The agency said recently that bears are leaving their winter dens and  searching for food.

    April 12, 2014

  • Deer birth control program falls short in New York town

    HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (AP) — Heavy snow and red tape resulted in a disappointingly slow start for a pioneering program in a New York suburb to use birth control as a no-kill way to thin the numbers of deer.

    April 12, 2014

  • Big bucks How many deer on Green Ridge?

    A study completed in 2013 by a master’s degree candidate at the University of Delaware showed that there are 20 to 30 deer per square mile on the Green Ridge State Forest, including some pretty darn nice bucks.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black bear biologist explains new hunt

    The Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service has abandoned the bear harvest quota system in use for 10 hunting seasons and has set the next two hunts at four days apiece.

    April 5, 2014