If you saw the now familiar orange safety vests and a man carrying what looks like a rifle (he’s a wildlife veterinarian and it’s a dart projector!) you’ll know that our field team was once again out in the field this March.
The purpose of the fieldwork was two-fold. One was to check the fit of the collars placed on 40 does in the Fall of 2019. The second purpose of being in the field this winter/spring was to re-mark a control group.
Because we were out in the field again to capture a control group, we used the opportunity to double-check on collar fit. There were some concerns voiced from the community that the collars used to identify does that have received immuno-contraception are too snug, and we have been following those concerns up diligently. We checked on many of the does that were specifically reported to us since September with concerns of a too snug collar, and Dr. Hering, our wildlife veterinarian, was able to report that in fact the collars are fitting well. Nine does were re-captured, their necks re-measured to look for growth and that the collars are not causing any problems. None of the collars that were checked are fitting too snugly or appear to be causing the animals any problems and so it was not necessary to replace or remove any collars because of inappropriate fit. The fit is very similar to that of a dog collar on a dog, which is what he was aiming for. However the collars can appear to fit snugger than they actually are, due to winter fur growth.
Although from a distance it can look as though a collar is too snug, when you’re up close it is much easier to tell how much room there actually is under the collar. Dr. Hering has been really pleased with how the deer’s necks look with the identification collars, there is far less chafing than with the much looser GPS collars used on the original control group!
Our original control group of 20 (down to 17 due to mortalities) were wearing GPS collars (those loose ones with the big bling!) that were timed to automatically drop off this February and March. Due to an unexpected provincial requirement that delayed immuno-contraception by a year, we need a control group for at least another year. So, as the original collars “blow” off, we re-captured some of the same animals (and in some cases new animals), for 18 does in total, and fit them with new colourful marker collars. These collars are even more light weight than the originals, have only 2 smaller tags, and were provided to us by Margo Supplies (https://www.margosupplies.com/ca-en/), a family-owned and operated company with over 35 years of safe, effective, non-lethal wildlife management solutions. We have loved the privilege of working with Margo Supplies.
If you see an animal with pink tags on her collar you will know that she is a control animal and was not given contraception this year!
Impact of COVID-19
Although we had hoped to re-mark 20 does and do a few more collar checks (we’ve also been taking a blood sample to help determine pregnancy rates, results not in), due to COVID-19 and the health guidelines for physical distancing, we have wrapped up field work until September 2020 when we will head out again to booster the does that received IC in the Fall of 2019, and give a primary vaccine to up to 60 new does.
In the meantime, we hope you and your families and friends keep healthy and safe.