Alabama Deer Hunters: Don’t Harvest Orange-collared Deer
As part of a research project on two state wildlife management areas and two private land sites, 90 deer in Alabama have been fitted with either VHF or GPS collars. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) asks hunters not to harvest deer with orange collars. The orange-collared deer also have yellow ear tags and should be easy to spot, according to department officials. Hunters are permitted to shoot a deer with a brown collar if they would normally do so.Auburn University researchers, with funding from ADCNR, began this research project in 2013. Deer were collared at two private land sites in Marengo and Pickens counties, at Oakmulgee Wildlife Management Area in west Alabama and at Barbour Wildlife Management area in the east-central part of the state. To accomplish this, deer were darted with a tranquilizer gun at a range of less than 20 yards. Once immobilized, researchers recorded appropriate biological data on each deer and attached either a VHF radio or GPS collar.
The VHF collars in use are brown leather collars placed around the deer’s neck along with a small metal tag in one ear. Hunters are allowed to harvest deer wearing this type of collar. Researchers hope to learn more about survival and mortality rates from these collars. Deer hunters are advised to take these deer if they would normally harvest them and pass them up if they would normally do so. This guidance is provided in attempt to negate any influence that might exist simply because of the presence of collars.
The GPS collars are bright orange and the deer wearing these collars have yellow ear tags in each ear. Hunters are asked not to harvest these deer. Researchers are hoping to get two full years of movement data from the GPS collars. These collars send a location fix every hour. At the end of the two-year period, the collars are programmed to fall off the deer and researchers will be able to locate and retrieve them. At that time, the information can be downloaded and analyzed. This data should provide valuable information about deer movement, how deer react to hunting pressure and how their movement patterns change in response to the weather, breeding season and other factors.
During last year’s hunting season, several collared deer were harvested or died from natural causes. Biologists collared additional deer prior to this year’s hunting season so that 90 deer are still collared.
Here is a breakdown of the locations of where deer are collared:
Barbour WMA − 17 VHF-collared deer and seven GPS-collared deer.
Oakmulgee WMA − 12 VHF-collared deer and nine GPS-collared deer.
Marengo County − 11 VHF-collared deer and four GPS-collared deer.
Pickens County − 20 VHF-collared deer 10 GPS- collared deer.
Hunters who harvest a deer with either type of collar should report it so data collected by the receiver can be retrieved for analysis. A hunter who harvests a deer wearing a collar on or near Barbour WMA should contact area biologist Adam Pritchett at 334-529-3222. Hunters who harvest an Oakmulgee-collared deer should call Jeff Makemson at 205-371-6375. Collars also contain an alternate reporting number to provide information about the harvest of collared deer: 334-844-9240. This number will reach Dr. Steve Ditchkoff at Auburn University.
For more information on the collared deer project in Alabama, contact the ADCNR Wildlife Section at 334-242-3469.