For the first time in five years this summer, collars won't be placed on white-tailed deer in Bloomington or Monroe County. But that doesn't mean researchers at Ball State University aren't keeping up with deer in the city and county.
First with fawns and then with adult deer, biology professors and graduate students from Ball State placed radio collars on deer in Bloomington and rural parts of Monroe and surrounding counties from 2013 through 2016. It's part of a continuing study to learn more about deer living in urban and rural areas.
"We finished collaring deer last July," said Jonathan Trudeau, graduate research assistant with Ball State's department of biology. Now Trudeau and others are monitoring the movements of the 40 deer that still have working collars around their necks. Of those, 24 are in Bloomington, with 10 males and 14 females, and 16 are in rural areas, with four males and 12 females.
Two different types of collars were placed on the adult deer. One is a GPS collar that uses the same satellite system as cars to track the deer. The second is a VHF collar that has a battery life of five to six years and is more permanent.
"Those (VHF collars) will stay on the deer pretty much for the deer's life," said Tim Carter, an associate professor at Ball State who has overseen both the fawn and adult deer studies.
Even after the deer study is completed, Carter said, the deer with the VHF collars will continue to be monitored, even if it's not specifically for the study. He explained that capturing the deer and removing the collars causes more trauma for the animals than simply leaving them in place. The remote release on the GPS collars will be activated and fall off the deer after the study is over sometime in July.