For a few years now, it's seemed impossible to get a handle on just how many deer are roaming Illinois. It's obvious the number is down compared to 10, 5 or even 3 years ago. The problem is that deer will not participate in a roll call, so DNR biologists basically have to guess — based on harvests, road kills and other non-scientific methods.
Studying specific deer is a different story, as I'm learning from a study under way next door in Missouri. There, biologists for the Missouri Department of Conservation are learning more about deer survival, reproduction and movement by utilizing computer, telemetry and satellite technology to track deer.
Researchers are tracking 90 deer that were outfitted with collars. Crews trapped deer from January through March to place the collars on them. Transmitters on the collars give satellites readings on a deer’s movements, and biologists are able to download that data to computers. And now MDC can map each collared deer’s travels in fields and forests, or if movement stops, note mortality.
“We want to make sure we’re using the most up-to-date information for current conditions,” said Emily Flinn, MDC deer biologist. “This will help us manage for a sustainable, healthy deer population.”
Survival data will include deer harvested by hunters as well as those dying from other causes. Biologists will use information to help guide policy decisions about regulations and permit allocations, such as how many antlerless deer permits are allowed for a specific county.
Flinn added that MDC will use information from the current study to help guide decisions on deer herd management.
“Every day we’re getting more information,” she said.
I don't know about you, but I'd love to see Illinois conduct this kind of study. If only our state could win the Powerball (times 50).
Let me know what you think!
Click HERE to read more blogs by Keri Butt.