Fort Drum has exhibited a rapid increase in cases of Lyme disease and this project along with projects from SUNY-ESF and West Virginia University will examine the dynamics between small mammals, ticks, white-tailed deer, and their predators. Our project began in spring 2015 as a collaboration between Fort Drum Fish & Wildlife and Cornell University. The main purpose is to determine the local white-tailed deer fawn survival rate and leading causes of mortality. In order to do this we have captured fawns shortly after birth and placed VHF expandable-breakaway collars on them. They are then regularly tracked to examine movements within the cantonment area of Fort Drum. When mortalities arise our staff collect data to determine the cause mortality similar to a forensics investigation.
In summer 2015 we captured and collared 18 fawns and in total had 21 fawns as part of the study. These fawns were found using ground searching with Cornell students, community volunteers, military families, retired veterans, and a number of active duty soldier volunteers. For 2016, we are expanding our project methods to including implant transmitters that are implanted in pregnant does and are expelled during birth. This allows us to find fawns immediately after birth before early mortalities occur.
Additional project interests include a comparison of population estimation methods, an analysis of land cover use, home range expansion patterns, and pending additional funding a genetic analysis.