PSU Deer Study


From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

With fawn capturing in the rearview, it has been a transitional week as we gear up for deer exclosure maintenance [of some of our vegetation monitoring plots]. Our days are spent monitoring fawns and acquiring telemetry locations as will be the case for the remainder of the year. We also assist with bear trapping for the predator aspect of the study.

This past Wednesday, we brought our freezer-full of fawn carcasses down to State College for necropsy which was very interesting. You can only tell so much from the outside! But our freezer didn’t stay empty for long. We had a fawn mortality on Friday.

To say we’ve been having vehicle troubles is an understatement. All 3 of our trucks would be in the shop right now if we didn’t need at least 1 to conduct field work. We’ve been juggling them in and out of the repair shop. Each time we get one back, something goes wrong with another. Among the issues they’ve been having are tire leaks, check-engine lights, 4WD grinding, bad alignment, and dead defrost fan. Coincidentally, 2 of the 3 trucks are due for inspection this month, so hopefully they will be up-to-snuff by the time their appointments roll around next week. [Vehicle woes are part of the job.  It’s not all fun and games in the field.]

My crew and I will be assisting with goose banding next Tuesday and Wednesday which should be a nice change of pace!

P.S. We saw baby killdeer chicks for the 1st time yesterday right by where I took that photo of a killdeer nest a few weeks ago! And I have to say, possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen… Mom wasn’t far off doing her broken wing display.  After a few quick photos, they were happily reunited 🙂 Day made.

Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

From the Southern Crew:

Hi all,

We didn’t quite wrap up fawn capture. My crew continued searching through Friday. We caught two additional fawns! My crew had long and strenuous days in the field so I thought that we should celebrate on our last day with some brownies and a tasteful selfie. 


We started our week off with some goose banding in Snyder County. We were all first time goose banders so this made for a thrilling experience. 

Tuesday, the Juniata College Ornithology class and Avery (Winter 2016 Deer Trapper) joined us in the field to help search for fawns. Within the first 45 minutes, our group of nearly 20 people pushed 3 fawns out of 2 hay fields.  There were some fast runners that kept up with two of the fawns and one guy actually got a hand on the back of one, but the fawn was too swift and darted into the brush. I’d have to say that this was the quickest we’ve ever pushed through any hay fields. 

We observed Justin Brown, the PGC Vet, necropsy some of the fawn carcasses from the Northern Crew’s mortalities. Ironically enough, we had our first fawn mortality in the South the same exact day.  Remember the fawn I wrote about a few weeks ago that was 700 meters from its sibling; the one we walked in on, but he was fine? Well, he happened to be our very first mortality.

Our final capture was at the end of the day on Friday. The crew was completing the mort run in Bald Eagle and I was finishing up some locations and getting ready to call it a day. I noticed something brown out in the field which I realized was a fawn when I saw the outline of its large ears. I called the crew over, we circled and netted the fawn. We released him in the tree line (not too far from where he was captured), as a farmer was getting ready to cut the field.

On another note, a hunting red fox came pouncing towards me while staring at the ground. When it was about 15 feet from me, I yelled “Hey!” and the fox looked up and immediately ran off. I came across a timber rattlesnake on my way out to do a mort run in Rothrock and I saw two fawn siblings we collared again.

A rare sighting of one of our collared fawns.

We will have a change of pace next week. The crew will begin fence work and hopefully get to help process some black bears for the predator portion of the Fawn Survival Study. We’ll continue to monitor and obtain estimated locations for the collared fawns. 

Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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