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Wisconsin deer research begins in Shawano, Rusk county areas

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

-- Citizens within roughly 30 miles of Clintonville in Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties and parts of Menominee County and in the area of Park Falls, Exeland and Winter in Price, Rusk and Sawyer counties soon may witness something never seen before in Wisconsin-a low-flying helicopter ranging through the skies with a live deer slung underneath.

The event is the first stage of a multi-year effort by wildlife researchers to follow and document the causes of death in bucks, does and fawns due to predators, hunters, vehicles and natural events.

Flights are expected to begin Jan. 21 in the Shawano County area and Jan. 28 in the Rusk County area. Operations in each area are expected to last 4 to 5 days and will take place on public and privately owned lands in cooperation with landowners who are assisting the researchers.

Researchers will capture 60 to 90 adult deer each in the Shawano and Rusk County areas with nets from a helicopter, transport each deer to a processing area where scientists, biologists and volunteers will weigh, sex, age, take blood samples, install radio transmitters and ear tags, assess body condition and perform ultrasounds and release the deer.

Radio transmitters will allow deer to be monitored until the deer dies. Bucks will be monitored mainly for cause of death. Does will be monitored for cause of death and whether or not they deliver fawns.

Flights will take place during late January and early February through 2014. Deer will also be captured with box traps and netted cage traps set out on cooperating landowner properties and monitored by field staff and volunteers.

During May through June of 2011 and 2012, scientists, biologists and volunteers will capture and put radio collars on 40 fawns each in the Shawano and Rusk County areas and subsequently monitor each fawn for cause of death during their first year until the radio collar falls off as it is designed to do as the animal approaches its first birthday.

"Critical to the success of this effort are landowners in the study areas willing to allow us to capture deer on their properties and volunteers to help us process deer and monitor them through the seasons," said Chris Jacques, research scientist and lead researcher for the project.

Volunteers can sign up on a DNR website at

"This is a multi-year effort, and we will need volunteers throughout the project," Jacques said. "This is an opportunity to literally do hands-on research with deer. Volunteers are needed to accompany biologists and assist in processing captured deer and in monitoring survival and movements of marked deer. We're telling folks we'd like at least a full day of their time each time they participate on deer capture events. You'll be making a real contribution to our knowledge of whitetails in Wisconsin."

Research partners include the Department of Natural Resources, UW-Madison-Department of Forestry and Wildlife Ecology, UW's Applied Population Laboratory, UW-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Whitetails Unlimited, AFL-CIO, Union Sportsmen's Alliance, Safari Club International, Menn Law Firm, Ltd., and numerous Wisconsin citizens.

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