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Deer Crew Diaries - Entry 76

Posted: July 19, 2017

Slithering through the summer

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

This week was spent monitoring our remaining fawns, performing radio telemetry and assisting with bear trapping!  And we had no fawn mortalities.

Our oldest captured fawns are now just about two months old. Which means that some of them are approaching the time in their development where they no longer rely on their mother’s milk [fawns are weaned by 10 weeks of age]. 

Female rattlesnakes1In addition to monitoring survival, everyone on the crew had the opportunity to assist with bear trapping. So far, Brandon has caught two bears.  Along with bears he and the crew have spotted over one hundred Timber rattlesnakes! Both black and yellow phased.

The first day they saw 15, on the second day they saw 28, 32 the next day, and 48 on Saturday. There are several gestation areas where the majority of the snakes have been sighted in clusters [gravid females will occupy basking sites throughout most of the active season; their movements are limited as they do not feed or forage during later periods of gestation]. Needless to say the crew and I have been extra cautious and are always wearing our snake guards.

Sproul elkIn other news we spotted a bull Elk on the way home from the Sproul on Saturday, so that was a first for me! Next week we will start to tackle vegetation plots!

-Maureen
Northern Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 


 

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From the Southern Crew:

Hello all,

We reported no fawn moralities this week in the South. I did recover a dropped collar from a yearling (2016 collared fawn). I plan to send out a collared yearling update later this week...that is, if I can access the data on my work laptop.

The crew didn't spend much time on fences this week. We kept busy with fawn survival checks, biangulations, and assisted with bear trapping.

Nate had a pretty solid week of trapping in Bald Eagle. On Wednesday, the first day of trapping, two bears were captured – a 400 lbs and 275 lbs. Ben was already with Nate, but he called in the reinforcements since the 400 pounder. Unfortunately, Nick was out of cell range so I was the only one to get the call.  I put fawn locations on hold and headed over to help process this monster of a bear! 

400-lb bear capture1  400-lb bear capture2  400-lb bear capture3

Immobilization went very well and he went out like a light. I must confess he was probably one of the cutest bears I've ever seen. He was in great body condition, had a thick, soft coat, and had the fattest head and biggest nose I'd ever seen. 400 lbs seemed much more innocent when it’s snoring softly. 

This year, we have a fawn sporting a (trial) GPS collar. This fawn gives us some serious difficulties at least every other day. There have been days that we don't pick up her signal at all. I asked Tess for the most recent locations of this deer and it turns out that the collar has only sent eight positions since we put it out in June. The GPS positions are all taken when the deer is out of her hiding place.

Avery trekked in to check out a riverine that a landowner told us about. It seemed like that's where the deer could've been hiding. Unfortunately, Avery did not pick up her signal there either. She did note some very thick vegetation. When Avery reached the road again, lo and behold, the signal came through. 

We're wondering if the fawn is spending her time in a hollow or if the collar just doesn't transmit a signal as far as our other collars. Maybe the thick vegetation is causing some problems, too. This place is known for heavy interference from electrical fences and power lines. It is a mystery we're continuously trying to solve.

Amber and I saw a doe with a nice plump belly and two yearlings this week in Rothrock. We know she still has a "baby on board." That gives us hope for our two remaining VITs. Ground hog in tree

I learned something new this week – groundhogs climb trees! I saw a groundhog pup in a tree. I was a bit baffled, almost to the point that I thought I discovered a new species of whistle pig. I Googled it and sure enough, groundhogs are actually accomplished climbers and swimmers. They will climb trees to escape predators or just to hang around.

We also saw plenty of snakes this week! 

rat snake in road   Rattlesnake-yellow phase

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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