Dean Beyer, a wildlife research biologist for the DNR, who is serving as the co-principal investigator for the Michigan Predator-Prey Project, said it will consist of three three-year-long phases of field work.
Field work for the first phase, in which fawn mortality rates in low-snowfall zones of the U.P. were investigated, began in 2009.
The second phase's field work, focusing on fawn mortality rates in mid-snowfall zones in Iron County, is ongoing.
"When we complete that, we'll move up to the high-snowfall zone (in January 2017)," Beyer
Once the third phase's field work is done, Beyer
expects the project to run for a few more years to analyze the collected data.
Even though the project is still years away from completion, research done in the low-snowfall zone has already provided valuable information about fawn survival rates.
"In the low-snowfall zone...we had annual fawn survival range from 35 percent to 59 percent," Beyer
"Coyotes were an important predator of fawns in phase one," Beyer
According to their website, the Predator-Prey Project uses netted "clover" traps to capture adult does during the winter months.
If they are pregnant, researchers outfit them with a radio-tracking collar and an implanted transmitter which will report where they give birth to their fawns.
"It ... increases our chances to find and capture a young fawn," noted Beyer
The presence of livestock dump sites near the zone being studied in phase one may have been a confounding factor, as Beyer
said it could have reduced the odds of wolves attempting to eat fawns in the area.
"They had this readily-available food source," Beyer
noted the Michigan Predator-Prey Project
's extreme level of depth and peninsula-wide scope ensures it will be highly useful.
"It's a very comprehensive study - there's not many studies out there that investigate all of these factors simultaneously," Beyer