The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is ramping up its efforts to track seasonal range, habitat use and fawn production for mule deer in the northern Big Horn Mountains.
The plan is to place radio collars on adult deer using techniques like helicopter net guns and other immobilization techniques from Game and Fish personnel on the ground, according to a press release.
This will be an expansion of efforts that began March 5, when 25 mule deer does were captured on the winter range of the eastern and western foothills of the Big Horns. The efforts start Friday and will target does on high-elevation summer range instead.
The tags will stay on the mule deer for the next three years, before automatically releasing from the animals, the release said. Over that time, once-daily position updates will be available for biologists throughout the study. The collars also record an animal’s position every two hours, which remains on the collar and is available at the end of the study.
If a doe dies during the study, a mortality signal will be sent to the local wildlife biologist, the press release said. Then the carcass will be located and biologists will determine the cause of death.
“Three deer of the 25 deer collared in March have died, with two of the mortalities attributed to malnutrition,” said Sheridan Wildlife Biologist Tim Thomas in the press release. “The deer were in poor body condition with little fat reserves and were found after a spring snowstorm.
"The third mortality was the result of mountain lion predation. The collars were retrieved from each animal and will be redeployed in August.”
The study is a combined effort from Wyoming Game and Fish, The Nature Conservancy, Sheridan Community Land Trust, the Bighorn National Forest, the Wyoming Migration Initiative and the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.