Contact(s): Dan Storm, DNR Deer Research Scientist 715-365-4712; Kevin Wallenfang, DNR big game ecologist (608) 261-7589; Caitlin Henning, DNR Office of Applied Science communications specialist, 608-228-6518
MADISON - This fall, hunters may spot collared or ear-tagged whitetail deer in the fields and woods of southwest Wisconsin. These deer have been tagged as part of a mortality study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and are legal to harvest.
"The most important thing for hunters to know is that collared and tagged deer are just like the rest of the deer in the area," said Daniel Storm, Department of Natural Resources deer research scientist. "DNR staff collared a random sample of deer, so the collars do not indicate anything about the deer's health or suitability for harvest. Hunters should make their decision without regard for GPS collars. Collared and tagged deer are absolutely OK to harvest."
The deer are collared as part of the Southwest Wisconsin Chronic Wasting Disease, Deer and Predator Study, a five-year investigation into deer mortality. To date, DNR researchers have placed GPS collars on 328 adult deer in portions of Grant, Iowa and Dane Counties.
The goal of this project is to comprehensively examine factors that could impact deer survival and deer population growth in southern Wisconsin. Those include CWD, depredation, habitat suitability and hunter harvest. The study is part of the Governor's initiative on chronic wasting disease.
"We're collaring deer over several years, and this sample will be the foundation for understanding deer mortality for the entire herd in the region. We know that one of the mortality causes for deer is hunter harvest, so we hope that our collared deer will be treated like any other deer by hunters this fall. If you would otherwise harvest a collared deer, go ahead and take it. If you would let it pass by, go ahead and let it go," Storm says.
Hunting licensing and normal harvest regulations apply equally to collared deer as they do to uncollared deer. "The only additional ask is that hunters who harvest collared deer call the number listed on the collar so we can come retrieve it," says Storm. The number to call is (608) 935-1940."
Whether you harvest a collared deer or an uncollared deer this season, the DNR asks for hunters' help by having their deer tested for CWD. The department needs to sample your adult deer to help further understand CWD in your area. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "CWD sampling."