Deer and some other fun guests!
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
From the Northern Crew:
It was a very eventful and exciting week with 14 captures! Maybe the deer are also enjoying the warmer weather. We set a new single-day capture record of four deer. Among our captures was our first juvenile female of the season! She was a feisty little deer bouncing with energy.
Even with so many successes this week, we were still disappointed when we found one of our traps flipped over. It showed lots of deer sign and the stakes had obviously been pulled loose. We suspect the thawing and softening ground had something to do with it, and we have been checking the stakes at each of our traps to avoid another missed capture. With the changing weather, we have had to close and move a couple of our traps because of water pooling in the bottom. Wet deer are not happy, and neither are wet and muddy crew members!
We had a chance to hone our telemetry skills again this week as we investigated a mortality. As we were making our way through the forest, we stumbled upon a wonderful surprise. A very small and cute saw-whet owl was perched in a dead tree less than ten feet from where I stood. As its pupils widened in surprise, I felt for sure that it would fly away. Amazingly, it stayed still and let me snap some pictures. We filed past one at a time, and it posed for all of us. At one point, it almost looked ready to fall asleep!
Among our other wildlife spots this week were a red-backed salamander and a honeybee. Spring really is here! On our trail cameras, we have also seen a fair number of turkeys, foxes, and raccoons. The turkeys especially seem to have come out of nowhere. We saw a group of 32 the other day! The icing on the cake to a great week occurred as we were moving traps and checking out new sites. I found my very first shed antler! Finding sheds has been described as finding a needle in a haystack, but other crew members found sheds the very next day! [Luck and search image ;)]
We had a great week with lots of deer and many exciting extras. Here’s to a couple more great weeks ahead!
-Carolyn, Northern Crew Leader, PGC Deer and Elk Section
From the Southern Crew:
The heatwave didn’t hold us back as much as I’d thought, as we managed to land 5 captures this week. Another skunking on the rocket net, but our Clover traps pulled through for us. We deployed two collars – one on a new doe for Bald Eagle and another on a recaptured doe for Rothrock. After looking at old capture records, this recaptured doe was first tagged in 2018 as an adult making her at least 3.5 years old now. Hopefully, she continues to lead a long, healthy life providing data for the Deer-Forest Study [Note: we DO NOT want hunters to avoid shooting collared deer – if one of our collared deer can be legally harvested, and the hunter wants to do so, we encourage them to harvest the deer].
The rest of the group consisted of several recaptures including a trap-happy buck fawn in Bald Eagle and old collared doe. We haven’t had these traps sitting here for all that long, so it’s a little frustrating to be getting the same deer. Although it boosts our capture numbers, you’d think they’d learn that being trapped is an unpleasant experience. This upcoming week we plan on moving several lines to new locations to see if we can get some fresh participants.
The birds, small mammals, squirrels and raccoons seem to be hitting our bait a lot harder than earlier in the season as evidenced by down doors and no deer upon arrival. There’s no sign of deer escaping, and the tripwire is still intact leading us to think that the little masked bandits and company have their meal then chew their way out. Crazy varmints.
Only a few more weeks left. We’re pretty happy with our capture results but hoping to top 50 captures for the season over the next few weeks.
-Ben, Southern Crew Leader, PGC Deer and Elk Section
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