Collared Deer Part of Ongoing Research Project

Research conducted on two wildlife management areas and two private land sites in Pickens and Marengo counties is attempting to answer questions that will help biologists better manage Alabama’s deer herd. Hunters are asked not to kill any deer they see with orange collars so those deer are kept in the research project.

In fall 2013, two graduate students from Auburn University, assisted by personnel from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, began capturing deer and outfitting them with transmitter collars. The goal was to place 15 VHF radio collars and seven to eight GPS collars on deer at four sites. To accomplish this, deer were darted with a tranquilizer gun at a range of less than 20 yards. Once immobilized, researchers recorded appropriate biological data on each deer and attached either a VHF or GPS collar.

Alabama orange collared deer

VHF Collars
The VHF radio collars in use are brown leather collars placed around the deer’s neck along with a small metal tag in its ear. Hunters are allowed to harvest deer wearing this type of collar. Researchers hope to learn more about survival and mortality rates from these collars. Deer hunters are advised to take these deer if they would normally harvest them and pass them up if they would normally do so. This guidance is provided in an attempt to negate any influence that might exist simply because of the presence of collars.

GPS Collars
The GPS collars are bright orange and the deer wearing these collars have yellow ear tags in each ear. Hunters are asked not to kill these deer. Researchers are hoping to get two full years of movement data from the GPS collars. These collars send a location fix every hour. At the end of the two-year period, the collars are programmed to fall off the deer and researchers will be able to locate and retrieve them. At that time, the information can be downloaded and analyzed. This data should provide valuable information about deer movement, how deer react to hunting pressure and how their movement patterns change in response to the weather, breeding season and other factors.

Locations
Ninety deer are currently collared in the state. Here is a breakdown of their locations.

Barbour WMA – At the onset of the 2014-15 deer season, there were 16 VHF radio collars and eight GPS collars on deer at Barbour WMA. Two VHF- and one GPS-collared deer at Barbour were harvested during last year’s hunting season, so three additional deer have been outfitted with collars. Currently there are 17 VHF collared deer and seven GPS collared deer at Barbour WMA.

Oakmulgee WMA – At Oakmulgee WMA, there were eight GPS and 15 VHF collars on deer for the 2014- 2015 hunting season. Of these, one GPS and five VHF deer were harvested. During the summer, an addi- tional two GPS and two VHF collars were put on deer for a current total of nine GPS-collared and 12 VHF-collared deer for the current deer hunting season.

Marengo County Deer – Prior to last deer season, there were seven GPS- and 16 VHF-collared deer at the Marengo County site. Of those, five VHF-collared deer were harvested and three with GPS collars died of natural causes. No additional collars were distributed at this site, so there is a total of four GPS- and 11 VHF-collared deer in Marengo County.

Pickens County Deer – Prior to last deer season, there were six GPS- and nine VHF-collared deer at the Pickens County site. Of these, three VHF deer were harvested. In addition, one VHF- and one GPS-collared deer have since died of natural causes. This past summer, an additional five GPS and 15 VHF collars were put on deer in Pickens County, so the current total is 10 GPS- and 20 VHF-collared deer.

Report Collared Harvests
The recommendations are the same this year as last year. Hunters are permitted to shoot a deer with a brown collar if they would normally do so, but are asked not to shoot any deer with an orange collar and yellow ear tags. Hunters who kill a deer with either type of collar should report it so data collected by the receiver can be retrieved for analysis.

Any hunter who kills a deer wearing a collar on or near Barbour WMA should contact area biologist Adam Pritchett at 334-529-3222. Hunters who harvest an Oakmulgee-collared deer should call Jeff Makemson at 205-371-6375. Collars also contain an alternate reporting number to provide information about the harvest of collared deer: 334-844-9240. This number will reach Dr. Steve Ditchkoff at Auburn University.

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