By Hailey Boone and Monica Lasky
It’s that time of year again! Candid Critters’ camera trappers have almost completed the Third Annual Fall Fawn Frenzy. We’ve had citizen scientists run trail cameras in ten specific counties so we can get an overall understanding of North Carolina’s deer population. Starting now and going through February, we will especially be looking to correctly identify deer, and will take extra care to detect this season’s fawns!
How can you identify a fawn versus an adult white-tailed deer? Here are a few characteristics that can inform you on the age of deer:
- Fawns’ hind legs are taller than front legs thus giving the body aslope. As a deer grows, the legs become parallel until an adult deer has front legs the same length as the back.
- Fawns do not have a muscular chest. Yearlings will begin building muscle, and the chest starts to get larger as the deer ages. In general, a fawn’s stomach is larger than its chest, and an adult has a full chest that is larger than its ribcage and stomach.
- Fawn ears are much bigger than the rest of the face, while adult ears are much smaller than the rest of the face.
- Fawns have very small muzzles/snouts. The snout is very close to the eyes. Adult deer have large snouts that continue to get larger with every year.
Determining between fawns and yearlings can be challenging, especially when this season’s fawns start to lose their spots. Classify yearlings as adults, not fawns. If the deer’s ears are larger than its face and has a small chest, select fawn. If the deer’s ears are equal to or larger than the face and the chest similar size to hind legs, select adult.
It can be difficult to correctly age white-tailed deer, and if you feel unsure about any ID of an animal as you upload your data in eMammal, feel free to leave the age as “unknown”. Candid Critters scientists will be reviewing all deer identifications and ID any ensure all sequences have been identified properly. If you would like more information on white-tailed deer or how to identify the species based on age, you can use this field guide!