Cody, Wyoming Mule Deer Being Monitored with GPS Tracking

19 Jul 2016

Mule Deer are beloved in Wyoming, but their numbers have been declining. Human interaction and destruction of their natural habitat has impacted the habitat and the well-being of these animals, making their future quite bleak. However, thanks to the efforts of researchers and GPS tracking devices, the future of the Mule Deer may not be so disparaging.

A team of researchers, equipped with equipment to tag the Mule Deer, was able to successfully tag several of the deer. The team, which was headed by Holly Copeland of Lander and an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, used pads to lay the deer down on, examination tools to assess them, a scale to weigh them and GPS tracking collars to collect important data regarding the habits of these animals.

The GPS tracking devices outfitting the deer send signals that will be relayed via satellite office in Laramie and Lander. Scientists will be able to use the data that the devices collect and compile important information that will help them map their migration routes.

According to Copeland, conservation and migration corridors are the priorities of this research. Copeland also said that she will lead the research in order to develop an action plan, which will be based on the data that is collected from the GPS devices. The researchers will interpret the information they receive and then direct The Nature Conservancy in deciding what areas should be the primary focus of conservation efforts.

The information that is gathered may be able to help the researchers better understand the migration routes of the deer, which will allow them to make the appropriate efforts conservation efforts. These efforts could include:

  • Working with private landowners
  • Addressing issues with migration
  • Launching fencing projects

Once the scientists have a better understanding of where the deer are going, they will be able to make a more effective plan.

Kevin Coates, a net gunner with the Native Range Capture Services explained the protocol of the project: Locate a group of deer, determine which deer are the does and separate one from the herd to avoid putting stress on the others and tag it.

Understanding what the females are doing will help scientists determine whether or not the population is growing, and that information is crucial for conservation efforts.

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