From the Northern Crew:
Bait it and they will come. Ok, not quite Field of Dreams. But with an incredibly balmy start to spring, trapping success heated up in the Susquehannock with 22 total captures and 15 new deer this week allowing us to deploy the last of our collars. Large-scale snowmelt and the beginnings of spring plant growth should discourage deer from entering our traps, but the beasts remained ravenous and we’re grateful for their cooperation for our last full week of trapping.
It had been a while since we had to recover any mortalities, but one of our collared does ended that streak this week. Optimistically hoping it was just a false mort, we headed to her last known location. We found what was left of her. The kill site was a bit bizarre with only the collar, deer hair strewn everywhere, and one leg. There were several piles of coyote scat around the area, and it’s very likely they were responsible for destroying the carcass and spreading it all over the countryside. We scoured the area for other pieces of the skeleton but were unable to find any further evidence. The ultimate cause of death remains unknown.
We got to fetch another collar off a tagged deer, but this time under a good circumstance. One of our collared males, Buck #12791, was originally collared way back in 2016. He has managed to evade predators, vehicles, and hunters ever since. The battery life on this collar was running low. So to prevent this poor chap from toting around a useless tracking device for the rest of his life, we removed it before the battery completely died.
Instead of trying to trap him, we used a remote drop-off device in which a unique code to the collar signaling it to break apart at one of the connections and ultimately fall off the animal. Pretty straight-forward process, but the tricky thing is getting close enough to the animal for the transmitter to reach the collar. Given the fact that this buck has been a wily survivor who’s probably at least 5 years old, we figured he’d be a worthy adversary. Lucky for us, his favorite hangout turned out to be ~150 yds from a main road! We used the transmitter to drop the collar and flushed several deer from the area. We found the collar laying on the ground where they had run!
We were amazed that everything had worked out so smoothly (don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?). We extend our thanks and gratitude to this buck for his 3 years of service and wish him continued health and prosperity.
Although the warm front encouraged deer to get moving again, we’re skeptical of just how long we can continue to trap successfully. It’s only a matter of time until the allure of accessible new food sources outweighs the risk of corn-snack capture. We plan on trapping a few more days next week, but things will probably come to a close on the trapping front. Hopefully we saved the best for last.
Field Crew Leader
From the Southern Crew:
After a great end to last week, we were itching for the same success. Though our numbers weren’t quite there this time we did have 3 captures. An adult doe in Bald Eagle was a great candidate for a GPS collar. We only had one doe and one buck collar left to put out. The deer though, had other plans.
Sometimes the deer reject the collars. When this occurs, we must recapture the deer and readjust or remove the collar. As soon as I released her, she began sliding around kicking the collar. In attempt to recapture her, she let me know how she really felt with a swift headbutt. Thankfully I had a hockey mask on! The collar did not have any room for adjustments, so we decided to remove it and let her go. You can bet she was happy with that decision!
We captured an adult buck at one of our new sites in Bald Eagle. His processing went well, and we were excited to put out our last buck collar. Well, he must’ve spoke to that doe the other day because he also decided that the collar wasn’t suited for him and we ended up having to remove it.
As the weather continues to warm up, our trapping days are numbered. Warmer temperatures allow for more food sources to be available making it harder to convince a deer to enter a Clover trap. We still have been having success in our traps, but we will most likely be finished at the end of next week.
On a side note, the vernal pools in Bald Eagle are starting to come alive! We have been hearing lots of wood frogs and some spring peepers. We even had the opportunity to check out a wood frog, some red spotted newts, and a spotted salamander. And I was even able to capture some photos under the water of wood frogs and their eggs. This is definitely a huge perk of working outdoors!
Field Crew Leader
If you would like to receive email alerts of new blog posts, subscribe here.
And Follow us on Twitter @WTDresearch