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Volunteers asked to assist with deer research project

From Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Wisconsin wildlife researchers are seeking people interested in wildlife research to volunteer in assisting in the live capture of deer. This will be the second year for each of two Department of Natural Resources deer research efforts: a five year study of adult deer and a three year study of fawns.

Captured deer will be fitted with radio collars and ear tags in an effort to learn more about causes of death in deer and the impact of predators on deer populations. Learn more about the projects online at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/es/science/wildlife/deer/index.htm#tab.

Researchers also ask all hunters who may have shot a collared or ear-tagged deer during the recently completed nine-day gun deer hunt to please call in using the number on the collar or ear tag and report their harvest if they have not done so already. They’ll be asked a few questions about the details of their kill and asked to return the collars, which are valuable and can be reused on newly captured deer.

“This is important information for the study,” said Christopher Jacques, research scientist, “as it will give biologists a more complete understanding of the number of deer killed by hunters compared to all other causes of death.”

Jacques says volunteers are vital to the success of this effort.

“Last year, our first year of this project, got off to a great start thanks to the more than 400 volunteers who donated their time and energy,” he says.

“Capture season has already started and anyone from hunters to wildlife students to folks interested in wildlife management and research are welcome. We also hope to hear from landowners in the study areas who would consider giving us access to their property to set up traps.”

Deer will be captured using box traps, net traps and drop nets.

“Last season we also used a helicopter to capture deer from the air,” said Jacques. “This is a proven technique in many parts of the country. We found it to be difficult and stressful to the animals here in Wisconsin leading to higher than normal mortality for this technique. People we’ve talked to and worked with on this project are concerned with these deaths so we’ve decided to not use the helicopters this year and use ground capture techniques only in 2011-12. If ground capture is not successful we may need to consider helicopter capture in the future.”

Volunteers will work with researchers to remove deer from the traps, record basic information on sex and age, in some cases take blood and parasite samples, fit radio collars and ear tags and release them. If captured does are found to be pregnant, they will be fitted with implant transmitters that will signal when fawns are born in the spring. New born fawns will be located at the time of birth and fitted with radio collars.

Collars emit a mortality signal at the time of death so researchers can locate and attempt to determine the animal’s cause of death whether it’s from hunters, environment, disease, vehicles, predators or other causes. The information will be used to fine tune population estimating techniques.

There are two study areas. One in northwest Wisconsin in the vicinity of Winter in Sawyer County and an east central area mostly in Shawano County.
People can learn more about the projects and sign up online at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/es/science/wildlife/deer/.

Volunteers can also contact Jacques at (608) 221-6358.

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