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Deer Crew Diaries - Entry 111

Posted: April 11, 2018

It's deer poop season!

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

Dear Deer People, 

Deer poop and more poop. It has been a week filled with pellet transects, collecting hundreds of samples of deer feces, and training for distance sampling. 

Trapping is over and all of the trapping stuff it tucked away again. We battled with a couple different episodes of snow this week which made our schedules a bit unpredictable. 

I got a mort run done and found that two of our fawns had gone missing. We looked for these two for a while, but didn't get any audible signal.  

We met Tess and Duane at the DCNR office for some training and introductions to the new FLIR equipment we will be using for distance sampling. After a couple hours of training we gathered all of our new equipment and headed into the field for an evening of new festivities. Surprisingly, everything worked flawlessly while doing surveys that night. 

We were very intrigued by how well everything was showing up on the small, GoPro sized cameras. We could see mice and rabbits scurrying through the woods.  The cameras were even penetrating through was very thick understory to reveal deer bedded down at quite the distance. We could clearly see them on the live-feed computer screen, but trying to shine them with a spot light [to get an accurate distance reading] was sometimes difficult. I was impressed!

When all we have to do are pellet surveys during the day, any kind of snow makes that completely infeasible. It gave me the opportunity to catch up on some paperwork and such until the snow melted off in the afternoons. 

This was Kim’s last week. Tom and Brian have two more weeks to go before their hours are all burned up. We look forward to continuing pellet surveys, weather permitting, and doing surveys every night. 

-Nate
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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From the Southern Crew:

Hello all,

Well, since deer trapping has wrapped up, we have moved onto pellet and distance sampling! Randi, Graham and I are working as a crew now. Nick finished up last week and has moved his life down to Florida. We already miss him!

We had snow early in the week so Randi and Graham were off. I met up with Bret to get all of the pellet survey supplies and catch up on what I missed. I also conducted a partial mort run, caught up on emails and updated our GPSs.

I conducted a mortality investigation in Bald Eagle. The deer had likely been dead for 3-4 days, but it was evident that she had been hit by a vehicle. The deer’s rear leg was broken and when skinned out, there was hemorrhaging present throughout the abdomen.Cool Fungi

We worked on pellet surveys most of the week. Apparently, the crew ran into a couple of bears in Rothrock. First, they saw a bear sitting about 20 feet from them. When it ran off, they saw a total of three bears head in the direction the crew needed to go. After a few minutes, they discovered two cubs sitting on the ground close to where they saw the first bear. They decided to hightail it out of there, so that the sow could come back to her cubs. 

Duane and Tess sat down with us to go over the distance sampling protocol and FLIR equipment with us. We also mapped out the transects in our study area.  On a trial run, we did see 5 deer on a single transect. The FLIR camera is definitely able to detect deer through the thick forest vegetation, but we quickly discovered that obtaining an exact location of the deer or herd was difficult.

I completed a significant amount of office work including updating timesheets and deer capture summaries, rescanning capture sheets from the final week of trapping, finalizing auto reports, and reviewing the crews’ remaining hours. I also met up with a hunter who harvested a deer in archery season to get some information. 

Next week, we are planning to continue with pellet and distance sampling. 

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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