Dan Storm, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources researcher, hopes deer hunters do not treat collared deer in Dane, Grant or Iowa counties differently than deer without collars.
These animals, 138 adult deer and 91 fawns, have been fitted with GPS collars beginning a five-year study of deer predators. What kills them is one of several factors Storm and his team hope to find out?
The answer would be misleading if one group of deer or another were selected against or favored.
“We want hunters to shoot a collared deer if that’s what they would do if it didn’t have a collar,” Storm said. “If it’s a deer they wouldn’t shoot, then don’t take it.”
This is research and treating deer this way helps to remove some of the bias.
Some of the adult deer and fawns have already died from all the causes one might expect, including hunting, vehicles, predators and disease. A first-year report will be available to the public early next year.
If hunters do take a collared deer, the DNR would like the collar returned to save money. The collar and two ear tags have phone numbers for the hunter to use to contact Storm’s team. Once the researchers receive a call from a hunter, they will go to the hunter, retrieve the collar and collect some general information from the hunter and measurements from the deer.
“We make it as convenient as possible for the hunters,” Storm said. “We generally make an appointment to meet someplace convenient for the hunter."
Whatever the hunters do, they should not cut off the collar. It can be re-used on another deer during one of the next four trapping seasons.
Generally speaking, there have been some surprise movements, particularly by the bucks, according to Storm. That information will be summarized later, too. This movement has led to the team slightly changing the format. Rather than a fixed schedule of data returned every four hours, Storm hopes to get the deer’s whereabouts every hour during the rut.
Storm says day and night movements and changes during the rut are of greater interest than when they first started the study, so data collection points will be stepped up. Collars on adult deer transmit information directly to the research team’s radio and computer systems. The fawn collars do not.
So far, cooperation by the public and hunters have been excellent and Storm expects that will continue.
Deer of all ages and genders will be trapped this winter, fitted with collars and add to those trapped during 2017 and are still alive. Trapping will then continue each winter through 2021 in the three counties, all of which are in the chronic wasting disease region.
Landowners in these regions have been assisting trapping and observing deer, bobcats and coyotes, as well as permitting research to continue on private land.
While collars on bucks, does and fawns vary slightly, those on does are most easily observed.