Tracking Deer Providing Valuable CWD Information

Tracking Deer Providing Valuable CWD Information
In Minnesota, researchers hope tracking GPS-collared deer will help them understand how natural dispersal impacts CWD transmission. (Photo courtesy of A. Spaulding & Minnesota DNR)

When deadly Chronic Wasting Disease was found in southeastern Minnesota’s Fillmore County in 2016, state wildlife officials saw a need to study the possible role of wild deer dispersal in CWD’s spatial spread. As of Oct. 31, 19 whitetails in Deer Permit Area 603 had tested positive for the disease.

A multi-year study that began last March involves using nets fired from helicopters to capture deer, fit them with GPS collars and release them back into the wild. Researchers then track the movements of each deer by satellite.

The study began with netting, collaring and releasing 109 deer. According to Dr. Chris Jennelle, research scientist for the Department of Natural Resources, early data have shown interesting dispersal — especially among “juvenile females” (doe fawns). In fact, to date the two widest roamers have been doe fawns; one moved approximately 77 miles (straight line) from her winter range, while the other traveled 40 miles.

“The average spring dispersal distance of juvenile females thus far has been 19 miles,” Dr. Jennelle notes. “But excluding the two outliers, the average falls to six miles. Juvenile males dispersed an average of nine miles, with one traveling 23 miles.”


The extreme travelers in each group skewed the data, due to the low number of deer being tracked, Still, 40 percent of doe fawns moved in excess of three miles from their winter range, while 28 percent of buck fawns did so.  

“Preliminary analysis suggests juvenile does disperse at similar rates to juvenile bucks in spring,” the researcher says. “Some (doe fawn) dispersal may be due to high densities and the influence of matriarchal does.”


At last report, 48 deer that were fawns when captured — 19 does and 29 bucks — still had functioning GPS collars. Dr. Jennelle says plans to continue collaring and tracking another 65 or so deer (roughly equal numbers of each sex) will add to confidence in the data set. The next captures are scheduled to occur in January.

More Information

This study received start-up funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, overseen by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. For more on the research, visit: dnr.state.mn.us and search for “deer movement study."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Alternative Season Whitetail Hunt

Mike Clerkin is hunting the alternative weapon whitetail season in Missouri with his S&W revolver.

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses the role scent plays when it comes to tracking and how to incorporate it into your training.

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss warm-season food plots on this deer factory in Minnesota.

September Black Hills Whitetail Hunt

September Black Hills Whitetail Hunt

Gordon Whittington is hunting Eastern Wyoming with his crossbow where he encounters a fast moving situation.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake. How-To

Bullet Drop & Range Estimation

Travis Faulkner

Not figuring the correct range to the target is a common mistake.

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During different seasons, the nutritional requirements of bucks, does and fawns will vary slightly, but all three need water, protein, energy (fats and carbohydrates), calcium, phosphorus, sodium and fiber. Land Management

Whitetail Nutrition Calendar: What Deer Eat and When

Matt Haun

Just like humans, whitetail deer need a well-rounded diet throughout the year. During...

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020! Guns

Best New Deer Hunting Rifles for 2020

Lynn Burkhead - January 29, 2020

Here's a look at some of the new deer rifles from SHOT Show 2020!

See More Trending Articles

More Deer Behavior & Facts

There's no other way to put it: I'd taken an incredibly stupid shot. And I'd had no excuse for Deer Behavior & Facts

How to Read Whitetail Body Language and Sign

Steve Bartylla

There's no other way to put it: I'd taken an incredibly stupid shot. And I'd had no excuse for

Minnesota researchers looking for CWD information through natural dispersal. Deer Behavior & Facts

Tracking Deer Providing Valuable CWD Information

Gordon Whittington - February 14, 2019

Minnesota researchers looking for CWD information through natural dispersal.

What exactly do deer see? Author Bob Humphrey dives into the fine details behind deer vision, which can surely help hunters be more successful in the field. Deer Behavior & Facts

Facts About Deer Vision and How It Can Help Us Succeed

Bob Humphrey

What exactly do deer see? Author Bob Humphrey dives into the fine details behind deer vision,...

Dr. James Kroll discusses the threat of EHD and Blue Tongue. Deer Behavior & Facts

Dr. Deer: EHD & Blue Tongue

NAW TV - September 19, 2016

Dr. James Kroll discusses the threat of EHD and Blue Tongue.

See More Deer Behavior & Facts

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now