From the Northern Crew:
That prognosticating groundhog Phil got it all wrong. After waking up to a fresh layer of snow almost every day this week, spring is not arriving early. While it makes getting around more difficult, deer movement seems to have picked up. It wasn’t the greatest week of captures, but we can’t complain. We’re still getting recaptures, some multiple times. I guess the occasional tussle with a human must not be all that bad [Ah yes, those trap happy fools]. One notable recapture was an exceptionally calm doe. She just stood there as we ran up to the trap. Hard to say whether she was shell-shocked or couldn’t be bothered to care. Either way, we were able to read her tags without restraining her and sent her on her way. If only they could all be so reasonable. Life would be easier for all parties involved.
We got a message this week that one of our does collared last year had entered mort mode. After crashing through a dense thicket of briars and down trees, we found a mostly intact carcass about a tenth of a mile from one of our traplines. There were no broken bones, no discernible old wounds, and she appeared relatively healthy. Although it seems somewhat far-fetched, we believe she fell prey to a predator of the clawed feline variety. Bobcat tracks led to and surrounded the kill site with only the hindquarters eaten. The edges of the flesh near the consumed portion were very clean, and there were also puncture wounds around the top of her neck/behind her jaw which led us to believe this was not an opportunistic scavenge.
Given the fact that it was an area of dense vegetation with downed logs and it appeared highly unlikely that a 30 lb. cat would be able to drag an adult doe back there, we think the cat may have jumped the deer as she was bedded down. We thanked her for her valuable contributions to the Deer-Forest Study, but bobcat kittens gotta eat too, right?
We’ve been trying to give each round of Clover traplines about two weeks before transferring traps to new sites. We plan on shifting to new areas at the beginning of next week. Our future potential sites are in areas that haven’t been targeted for trapping efforts before, so we’re hoping for a batch of fresh, new deer to join the club next week.
Field Crew Leader
From the Southern Crew:
We worked hard this week establishing new sites in Bald Eagle and rebaiting our active sites in Rothrock. After 14 days of no captures, we had an adult buck in a clover. Even though he was a recapture from our last rocket net captures, it was great to be able to double check ear tags and collars.
We have been switching between State Forests but this upcoming week we are going to continue in Rothrock while also opening some traps in Bald Eagle. Hopefully this will increase our odds and we will have more capture success. The new traps set in Bald Eagle are both exciting and frustrating. We found some very promising sites with lots of deer sign!
As you could imagine snow with a layer of ice is “fun” to work in, but the other day we got ourselves into a rocky area. After clearing snow in multiple spots, we had located the perfect trap site. There was only one problem. The site had too many rocks on the surface which isn’t good for the deer or us. After we would remove one rock, it seemed like another was always right underneath. After clearing the trap, we filled in the holes to make sure the floor was smooth.
We took another shot at rocket netting. Our net was visited regularly in the weeks before, but something was keeping the deer away. After a couple days of better weather last week, our camera began getting our regulars back at the site. They must’ve known we were coming though because as you may have guessed, they didn’t show up the night we were there.
All in all, it was a good week and we are looking forward to catching more deer soon!
Field Crew Leader
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