[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
FLIR thermal surveys continue to make up most of our work hours this week. Some nights we see no deer at all, and some nights we see plenty – so far, the biggest group we’ve encountered is 12 deer, all bedded down together. No more bears have been seen, unfortunately – I’d love to get a video of one. The weather has been a bit chilly lately, and this past week it snowed a couple times during our surveys. Falling so heavily at times we had to stop because it obscured the camera’s view
During the day we’ve been finishing the trapping season clean-up. Our last traps were removed from the field this week, and all 30 are now back at the office waiting for next season. The snowmobile helmets are packed away, and the tire chains are stored in the shop – I’m hoping it’ll be a good long time before I need to get them out again!
Our trucks were full of bits and pieces of trapping supplies that accumulated over the course of the season, but after a long afternoon spent cleaning, they’re back in shape (as clean as a field truck can be, anyway). Lastly, we completed the removal process of all PGC materials from our two field trucks that no longer run – everything down to the license plates! They’re ready for auction. We’d like to thank Otis and Wilma for their service on the project and wish them a happy retirement 😉
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
From the Southern Crew:
It’s been an interesting week down in the Southern DFS study area! We have still been chugging away doing our FLIR surveys every night. We change it up between surveying Bald Eagle and Rothrock state forests. Early in the week we were doing a survey back a logging road and everything was running smoothly as we slowly made our way down the trail. We actually even saw a few deer on this route which was a bit of a surprise.
But then, on our way out, the 4-wheel drive went out on our truck. There was just enough mud combined with the small rocks and grass of the logging road that our truck had no chance of getting out with only rear wheel drive. The crew and I spent a good chunk of time jamming sticks, stones, doormats, and even Sammi’s sweatshirt under our tires to try to get us out. At one point we finally got some momentum and made it about 40 yards only for the truck to slide out and get stuck once again.
Shortly after that a stray thunderstorm rolled in and dumped on us. That’s when our 10% chance of getting out ourselves went to a big fat 0. Thankfully, there is a single spot in the forest out there that gets one bar of service and it was only a 30-minute hike away! And even better, Bret was home, answered his phone, and was able to come rescue us! For a nasty situation, it happened in the best spot possible. The next day I gave our friends at DCNR a call and they were able to come pull out the truck with their backhoe with no issues whatsoever. Thanks for the help everybody!
We also had some mortality investigations to go on this week that was something fun to do before we’d head out to do our FLIR surveys. The one deer took us a while to find because the telemetry signal was really bouncing and was difficult to follow. Eventually, the collar was found cashed in a pretty deep hole and buried in leaves and dirt. It was also right next to fairly large body of water so maybe that was causing the signal to trip us up.
Our other mortality wasn’t as difficult to find because it ended up being only about 30 yards away from the provided GPS point. The crew found the carcass at that site, but she provided a few meals to some critters before we found her! The crew all had the opportunity to play CSI and go through our mortality and field necropsy process which is always a good time.
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section