Fawns, collars

The fawn collars are designed to stay on deer’s necks for a year, but may be replaced with adult collars if the fawn is captured during the 2018 winter netting season.

JERRY DAVIS, For the State Journal

Wildlife viewers, archery scouters and fall hunters will notice more and more deer this fall, of all ages, carrying a collar and two ear buttons.

These items being worn are part of the Department of Natural Resources' five-year deer predator study in Dane, Iowa and Grant counties.

About 100 fawns were hand-captured this past May and June and fitted with a small collar that helped researchers track these animals, but not with the ease possible with the larger, GPS-equipped collars placed on adult does and bucks.

The tiny collars have elastic bands that deteriorate after about a year and the collar drops off. In a few cases, the fawn’s collar may get caught on a fence or stick and get pulled off.

“We’ve picked up a few fawn collars from the 100 or so fawns we collared,” said Dan Storm, DNR research biologist in Rhinelander. “One was hanging on a fence and several were found in open fields. The device has a mortality mode signal that transmits if the unit remains stationary for long periods. This way we can find the collar, or the dead fawn.”

Because trapping deer will continue for several years during the winter, it is likely some of this year’s collared fawns will be netted.

“If that happens and the collar is still on the deer, we’ll take it off and put an adult deer collar with a GPS unit on those animals.”

In cases of finding a collar and no fawn, researchers do not know if the animal was killed by a predator.

Animals who lose their collars are still identifiable with the two ear button tags, which carry numbers that can be traced back to the initial capture data.

Overall, Storm said the summer research has been going smoothly.

“Nothing wacky has happened,” he said.

The rest of the summer and early fall will allow workers to gear up for winter trapping, which could begin in earnest after Jan. 1, 2018, if the ground is covered with snow, which helps to concentrate deer for drop netting. Other methods are also used to capture and collar deer.

Shooting a collared deer during the seasons will be permitted and hunters will not be from doing so, either.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer from Barneveld, at sivadjam@mhtc.net or 608-924-1112.