Tracking Deer Across Borders

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On June 18th, the CCWHC Western-Northern staff received a call from a Fish & Wildlife Officer out of Brooks, AB; he was calling to enquire about a mule deer buck that was spotted near the Red Deer River with a green ear tag. It was confirmed to be one of the deer from the CCWHC’s on-going Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) study along the South Saskatchewan River near Cabri, SK, over 170 kilometers to the east. This buck was first captured in June 2009 as a fawn and fitted with a radio tracking collar.  He was recaptured in February 2010, at which time he tested negative for chronic wasting disease.  At that time the overall prevalence of CWD in the study area was over 30%. He then disappeared from the study area in spring of 2010 and was located through aerial tracking near Sceptre, SK in October 2010.

Courtesy of Jason Lindgren. – Photo of research deer #481 near Buffalo, Alberta

Juvenile deer usually disperse from their natal home range at 12 to 18 months of age and this movement often coincides with the fawning and rut seasons in the spring and fall. The Saskatchewan CWD study, which began in 2006, documented dispersal distances of juvenile deer with the average being ~ 25 kms and the longest, being 190 kms. It was also found that the deer tended to disperse along rivers valleys and other rugged terrain. These long distance dispersals may have important implications for the spread of CWD into new areas.

By Marnie Zimmer

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