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Deer Crew Diaries – Entry XII

Posted: April 19, 2016

Crews are still on poop patrol but their ranks are thinning.
Another spring ephemeral: Spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)

Another spring ephemeral: Spring beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)

Winter trapping crews are finishing up and starting to move on as the seasons change.

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

To collect, or not to collect? That is the question. We've completed 78 of our 98 pellet transects in the Susquehannock collecting hundreds of poop samples along the way. Each transect is 800 meters, about half a mile. By the time we finish all our transects, we will have walked 49 miles. In reality, it will be much further than that. The transects are a half mile as the crow flies but with topography they can be considerably longer. That's also assuming we walk in a perfectly straight line, which--let's be honest--almost never happens [and they don't have to, we just provide coordinates to guide their trek]. Oftentimes, we're also hiking in and out a good distance from the nearest road to get to these transects.

The upside of all that walking? Aside from shedding a little winter weight, we also get to be out in the woods exploring parts of the forest seldom seen by people [Job perk!].

Sometimes there's a good reason it's seldom seen. We had a transect this week through the thickest briar patch east of the Mississippi. [looks like quality grouse habitat to Duane!]

Brambles

With thorny blackberry stalks towering above our heads as far as the eye could see, we slowly trudged our way from point A to point B. Two and a half hours later, when we finally emerged back at the truck, it looked like we'd been in a fight with a posse of angry cats--and lost. But we found 2 quality pellet samples, so our struggle was not in vain! [they may have seen more pellets but we only collect "fresh" pellets that are likely to have extractable DNA]

This was Pat and Tony's last week. They start new field jobs next month back in the Midwest. So with half my crew gone, I'm hoping we can complete the remaining 20 transects by next Tuesday [yesterday].

red-backed salamanderred-backed salamander

P.S. I crossed paths with a few folks out walking the trails this week who saw me in the PGC truck and flagged me down. I'd never seen them before but they greeted me saying, "Hey, are you Hannah? We really enjoy your blog posts!"

This is the second time now a stranger has mentioned that they read the updates. We have a fan club!

-Hannah
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer & Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:

Hi all,

The southern crew finished up their hours on Tuesday of this week. We’ve completed 62 pellet transects and have 34 left to go. Since the crew has finished up, Bret and others plan to come out to complete the surveys. I had one volunteer join me this week on pellet surveys on Wednesday. I spent all of Thursday conducting pellet surveys on my own and conducted a few hours of office work on Friday to complete my hours for the week. I am currently in the process of uploading and organizing the pellet survey data sheets, track logs, and waypoints.

box turtle

I did successfully drop one GPS collar from a doe on Monday evening. I was walking down Treaster Mountain when I heard something begin to run. I looked over the crest of the mountain and there was deer 17154, just the doe I was looking for. Using the electronic drop-off device, I transmitted the drop-off command to the collar twice to ensure that the command went through. The collar did not fall off right away, and I ended up following her down the mountain and across the road. This is where the collar finally fell from her neck. Alyssia sent me a location for the collar in the morning, so I went and fetched it. Wooo hooo!! Once I get the drop-off device back from Hannah, I can continue pursuing the other VIT doe in Rothrock to retrieve the collar.

collar

Spring has certainly sprung upon us. There have been tons of cool critters out and about over the past few weeks [Job perk!]. I came across a Killdeer nest. I only took notice of her, and located her camouflaged eggs, when she began to display the broken-wing act.

 killdeer nest

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer & Elk Section

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