White-tailed deer research project underway in Clearwater Region

Additional Fish and Game vehicle traffic has been reported by sports persons in the Clearwater Region over the last few weeks. In big game management units 15 and 10A, IDFG has started a multi-year research project to better understand how predator and prey big game populations influence each other and how wildlife management activities (such as harvest levels) influence those interactions. White-tailed deer are the most abundant large prey species in north Idaho, and therefore, understanding their ecology is a key first step in the project. The purpose of the current capture effort is to understand cause specific mortality (why animals die) and movements of white-tailed deer does, bucks and 8-month-old fawns.

Crews started trapping in February to capture and place GPS collars on white-tailed deer. Crews will return in spring to capture and collar newborn white-tailed deer fawns with small, expandable collars. Crews will then return as needed to retrieve collars after mortalities occur. The GPS collars transmit 2 or more locations per day and if the collar stops moving for a set period of time, a “mortality signal” is sent to biologists who will go find the animal and determine cause of death. In addition to understanding causes of mortality, the data collected by the collars will provide previously unknown information on seasonal and daily movements, migration patterns, and seasonal habitat use by white-tailed deer in north Idaho.

If you see a group of IDFG vehicles parked in these units, please give crews the needed space and time to complete the capture effort and return to their vehicles. They want to minimize the amount of time captured deer are exposed to humans, therefore they try to work quietly and quickly, release the deer on site, and quickly vacate the area. Please do not disturb traps or deer in traps if you find them. If you happen to find a collar, please contact your local Fish and Game office to return it.

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IDFG- John Nelson