Could trail cameras be used to track fawn birth and calculate the conception dates?
QUESTION: Do you think I could use my trail cameras to tell when the rut occurred in my area? If I see pregnant does at my camera one week, and the next week they’re skinny again, could I back-date to determine conception? — Ken P.
ANSWER: Well, I suppose that’s possible, but it seems like a somewhat unreliable method. For starters, a swollen mid-section doesn’t necessarily mean they’re pregnant. They could simply have a full belly. Also, you would need to be able to identify individual does to track when the change occurs.
Biologists determine rut timing by “collecting” samples and measuring the fetuses. They can then accurately back-date to the date of conception. However, this requires killing the doe and fawn(s), which is probably not something you want to (or legally can) do.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way. Biologists have been collecting and measuring fetuses long enough that they have a pretty good idea when peak breeding occurs in any given area. And despite what some might mislead you to believe, it occurs at the same time every year.
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