Indiana Studies Urban Fawns

collared fawn IndianaFrom an Indiana Department of Natural Resources press release:

DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife biologists are partnering with Ball State University biologists to determine how white-tailed deer fawns move in urban areas compared to rural areas.

The study kicked off this spring with more than 30 fawns being collared with lightweight radio transmitters to track their movement. The project will last two years and the data collected will be used to help with statewide management of white-tailed deer. The data will also provide insight into the differences in the lives of urban and rural fawns.

Read the entire press release here.

Photo: Collared fawn, courtesy of Indiana DNR




Non-native Lice Impact Cal. Deer Population

hair loss syndrome CDFWCalifornia Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) researchers have captured and collected hair and blood samples from more than 600 deer and elk in an effort to understand “deer hair-loss syndrome,” says a CDFW news release.

A non-native louse appears to be a key factor in the syndrome, which also sometimes includes internal parasites. Deer with the syndrome are skinny, and the fawns don’t survive. A report from Fox 40 in Sacramento notes that the syndrome has been known in Oregon for years.

“Some of us speculate that the louse-infested deer spend so much time grooming they become easy targets of predation by coyotes or mountain lions,” said CDFW senior wildlife biologist, Greg Gerstenberg in the release.

The researchers have counted and identified lice on the captured deer, are following them through radio collars, and have treated some for lice. They hope to have answers soon.

Read the brief CDFW news release, here.
The Fox 40 report is here.

Mule deer are in decline throughout the West, and California is no exception. This article from 2010 in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses the decline.

Photo: Deer with hair-loss syndrome, courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Who Should Oversee Deer Breeding and Captive Hunts?

white_tailed_deer_buckThe deer breeding and captive hunt industry would like state departments of agriculture to regulate their industry, rather than state fish and wildlife departments. The industry has made a legislative push throughout the country for more favorable regulations.

A blog in Outdoor Life points out that state wildlife agencies should regulate all of a state’s deer because of the threat of disease — particularly chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is often associated with captive deer hunting facilities, and odd genes escaping into the wild deer herd, not to mention the problem of turning a public resources (wild deer) into private property.

Read the Outdoor Life blog here.

The Associated Press recently ran a story about the controversy over regulating private deer enclosures in Mississippi. The state wildlife department has regulated the facilities since 2008. A legislative committee says it shouldn’t.

Read the story in SF Gate.

Wildlife Professional magazine had an excellent article on this subject back in December. It reviews all the threats to the wild deer herd from captive hunt and deer breeding facilities.

Read the article here.

Photo: A wild buck, by Joe Kosack/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Penn State Develops CWD Model

white_tailed_deer_buckEight years ago, research done by Penn State University, the Pennsylvania Wildlife Commission, and the US Geological Survey found in a study of white-tailed deer, that 70 percent of yearling males will disperse, and the average dispersal is six to seven miles. Depending on the amount of forest on the landscape, the researcher says, those yearling males may go just a mile or as far as 30 miles.

Now, another team of Penn State researchers are using that dispersal data to model the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania.

So far, the conclusions are that in parts of the state with less forest, the Game Commission may have to consider disease-management areas that are larger. It also has implications on sampling efforts to try to get a handle on the prevalence of the disease.

Read the Penn State University press release here.

Photo: Joe Kosack/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Why Deer Die

Wisconsin deer trap“Hunter harvest continues to be the greatest cause of death of both adult and yearling bucks, while predation was the leading cause of fawn mortality, with most predations occurring within the first four to six weeks following birth,” said Jared Duquette, research scientist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and lead researcher for a five-year study of causes of adult deer mortality and a three-year study of fawn mortality in an item in department’s weekly news bulletin.

According to the weekly news summary:

Capture of adults will continue through the 2012-13 and 2013-14 winters. Fawns were live-captured in May and June in 2011 and 2012 and will be captured again in 2013. A number of captured adults and fawns are fitted with radio collars. All are fitted with ear tags. Additional metrics are collected including body weight and size, blood samples, sex, presence of external parasites and age. Does are also examined for pregnancy. Deer are followed by radio signal until death, at which time researchers study the mortality to determine cause.

More details on the two studies are available in the department’s news report. Wisconsin is also conducting some other interesting deer studies. You can see the list here. I’d be interested to know the results of “An evaluation of the usefulness of deer-vehicle collision data as indices to deer population abundance.”

Read the weekly news item detailing the two deer studies here.

Photo: Closed box trap with deer feeding around it, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Girls and Hunting

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

Girls are the fastest growing segment of Wisconsin’s hunting population. The number of licensed women gun deer hunters in Wisconsin is projected to increase by 50 percent to 75,000 in 20 years. As of opening day, females represented 32 percent of resident first-time license buyers and 30 percent of resident first-time junior gun deer licenses.


A very unscientific survey of the photos in a local Vermont newspaper celebrating youth hunting day, showed not quite one-quarter of the young hunters pictured with a deer were girls.

Read the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources page, including videos, here.

In other deer hunting news, the season tallies are starting to come in. You can find Minnesota’s here. And you can find numbers on Missouri’s season, the biggest in years, here and here. In Alabama, hunters are self-reporting on-line. Read the story from the Alabama Media Group.

Photo: Mother and daughter hunt together in Wisconsin, courtesy of the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.

Wyoming Won’t Cull Deer After CWD Found

deer with chronic wasting diseaseChronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease affecting deer, has been found in a new region of Wyoming, about 40 miles away from an area in Utah where CWD had recently been found.

A Wyoming Game & Fish Department press release says that the state will not try to reduce the number of deer in the area where the diseased deer was found. This technique was successfully used in New York State, which may be the only place CWD has been eradicated after it had been found in wild deer populations.

The Wyoming release cites research from Wisconsin and Colorado showing that the technique doesn’t work as its reason for not using it.

Read the press release here.

Photo: deer with chronic wasting disease. It’s teeny tiny because nobody wants to get a good look at a sick deer. Courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture

CWD Taxidermy Confusion in Penn.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was found in a captive deer in Pennsylvania three weeks ago. A quarantine was put in place so that the bones and brains of deer killed near where the disease was found cannot be taken out of the area in the hope of preventing the spread of the prion-based disease.

This is causing confusion among local hunters, taxidermists and butchers who handle deer meat, an article in the Hanover Evening Sun reports.

One butcher outside of the quarantine area said that he hoped that he would at least have access to venison scraps to make bologna and jerky. He should have access to much more than that. Another expressed willingness to travel inside the quarantine to butcher animals at people’s homes.

Of course, these questions and confusions raise questions of their own, especially since there is no easy way to neutralize a prion.

Read the whole story in The Evening Sun, here.

Deer Health

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer there last week. As you may guess from the state department issuing the news, CWD was found in captive deer.

CWD had been found in New York, which borders Pennsylvania, several years ago and is believed to be eradicated there. But there have been more recent incidents in West Virginia and Maryland, which also border the state.

(My rough measurements show the Pennsylvania case as being about 40 miles from where CWD was found in Maryland and West Virginia.)

Read the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture press release here. (It’s a PDF).
Read an article in the Lehigh Valley Morning Call, here.

In other deer health news, Louisiana State Wildlife Division chief Kenny Ribbeck told the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission last week that Hurricane Isaac killed up to 90 percent of the deer fawns in the Maurepas Basin, according to an Associated Press article that you can read in The Oregonian. Deer hunting in the region has been adjusted as a result.

And in the category of “when is no news actually news” the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre notes in its blog that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) came awfully close to Canada this year. The midge that spreads EHD is not found in Canada, it says, but the disease may move north with the midge because of climate change. It also notes that because the disease has never struck there, the outbreak may be severe.

Read the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre blog post, here.

Photo: Joe Kosack/Pennsylvania Game Commission

Game Checkpoints Provide Data on Human Diseases

Hunter check-ins have always provided a bounty of information on the health of individual animals and the population profile of the species. In Maine this year and for the last few years, they are providing more. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has teamed up with the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s Vector Borne Disease Lab to provide blood samples from moose, white-tailed deer and even some turkeys for the lab’s surveillance mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to a story from WSCH TV in Portland, Maine.

By using blood samples from hunter check-ins, the lab is able to get information from remote areas that are difficult (and expensive) to monitor through traditional methods. And, according to the WSCH story, they are finding a surprising amount of these diseases out there.

Read and watch the story from WSCH TV here.