A Department of Natural Resources research project that will examine how deer move across the landscape in southeastern Minnesota’s chronic wasting disease management area is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 12.
“The data from this study will help us estimate male and female dispersal patterns as they relate to disease transmission and build movement models,” said Dr. Chris Jennelle, a DNR research scientist. “We can use that information to predict likely pathways of potential chronic wasting disease spread and also estimate causes of death for use in population models.”
The DNR’s private contractor plans to capture 115 deer of varying age and sex classes and fit them with GPS radio collars. Daily movements will be tracked to determine seasonal movements and dispersal pathways. Deer dispersal occurs when juvenile deer come of age and move away from their mothers. Exactly when that occurs during the May-to-July time frame, and how far they go, can vary.
Deer will be captured in nets launched from a helicopter. Captures will occur on private land where the DNR has obtained landowner permission. Deer also may be captured on public land. All captures will occur on and around the periphery of the disease management zone, also known as deer permit area 603.
DNR staff will keep participating landowners updated on how GPS collared deer use the local landscape.
DNR scientists in Minnesota hope to share movement data across the upper Midwest with colleagues in Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin. With that information in hand, research and management strategies can be developed that will have a better chance of slowing disease spread and benefiting the long-term viability of deer populations.
More information about CWD can be found at mndnr.gov/cwd.