We conducted a pilot study to test the usefulness of Global Positioning System (GPS) collars for investigating wolf (Canis lupus) predation on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns. Using GPS collars with short location-attempt intervals on 5 wolves and 5 deer during summers 2002-2004 in northeastern Minnesota, USA, demonstrated how this approach could provide new insights into wolf hunting behavior of fawns. For example, a wolf traveled ???1.5-3.0 km and spent 20-22 hours in the immediate vicinity of known fawn kill sites and ???0.7 km and 8.3 hours at scavenging sites. Wolf travel paths indicated that wolves intentionally traveled into deer summer ranges, traveled ???0.7-4.2 km in such ranges, and spent <1-22 hours per visit. Each pair of 3 GPS-collared wolf pack members were located together for ???6% of potential locations. From GPS collar data, we estimated that each deer summer range in a pack territory containing 5 wolves ???1 year old and hunting individually would be visited by a wolf on average every 3-5 days. This approach holds great potential for investigating summer hunting behavior of wolves in areas where direct observation is impractical or impossible.
Additional publication details
Testing global positioning system telemetry to study wolf predation on deer fawns