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Deer Crew Diaries - Entry XV

Posted: May 12, 2016

Let the new season begin!
Fringed Polygala (Polygala paucifolia)

Fringed Polygala (Polygala paucifolia)

Crew leaders are VERY excited.  Fawn capture crews are arriving and so are fawns…almost.

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

Fawning season has officially begun in the Susquehannock! On Wednesday, we had our first VIT expelled. Using telemetry equipment, we were able to locate the VIT, no problem. Unfortunately, a thorough 2-hour search of the area did not turn up any fawns. To check if this doe was still in the vicinity, we followed her collar's signal for a couple hundred meters until we realized she was a ways off yet. Rather than disturbing the area further, we decided to return the following morning to walk in on the doe at daybreak, when any fawns would likely be nursing.

VIT birth bed
VIT at likely birth site.

Strike 2...even though we got out there early as planned, we quickly realized we had a problem. These collars are set to turn off overnight to conserve battery so we couldn't track her until 8AM when the signal kicked back on. Since the collar would stay on until 8PM which is close to sunset when fawns might be nursing again, we decided to hold off on our AM adventure and try locating this doe that night instead.

Strike 3...while we did find and follow the doe for about 45 minutes, we couldn't get close enough to see her; she never stopped moving & kept circling around back and forth, indicating that she wasn't currently with her fawns if there were any [but maybe that they were in the area]. Abandon mission.

We had a second VIT collar send out an expulsion email on Thursday. With high hopes of redeeming ourselves, we began hiking in to the VIT signal which was only beeping every 5 seconds rather than every second like the first VIT we found. This should have been a clue since the VITs beep slower when they are inside the doe whereas they beep faster after being expelled.  A little factoid I didn't learn until afterwards [VITs are temperature sensitive.  Slower beeps = warmer temp.  Faster beeps = cold temp].

Anyhow, as you may have guessed, we didn't find any fawns or the VIT for that matter. We followed the VIT signal until we realized it was still inside the doe (that, or the VIT grew legs and was taking us for a ride). Coincidentally, every time we checked the doe's collar signal it was coming from the same direction as the VIT... go figure. Hoping for better luck next time!

My fawning crew starts on Thursday and I couldn't be more excited--let the good times roll!

-Hannah
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:

Hi all,

Other than Monday, the entire week was devoted to pellet transects. We are finally down to single digits—8 pellet transects left! They take a considerable amount of time to complete, especially those that are away from any roads and settled on top of the ridges. We were lucky to have two Forest Technicians (Mandy and Zach) from District 5 assist us with pellet transects this week. With two extra people, we were able to split up and double the amount of transects in a day. I’m hoping to get pellet transects completed by Tuesday.

pellet transects

On Monday, Bret and I searched for a doe in Bald Eagle to drop a GPS collar but were unable to successfully do so. We even hiked to the highest point possible but were still stumped. We’re focusing on finishing pellet transects for now but, hopefully, we can go in again with a more recent GPS location and have better success.

Next Thursday, Julie, Kaitlyn, Levi and Sarah will join the Southern Study Area Fawn Capture Crew! Levi is actually a returning fawn capture crew member and Julie volunteered during deer trapping this winter. Friday, we’ll tour the study area and then we’ll begin searching for fawns. I am very excited for fawn capture to begin!

 

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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