Image courtesy Minnesota DNR

Wildlife researchers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have completed outfitting newborn fawns with GPS-tracked collars as part of a three-year study taking place in the southern Minnesota. The study uses data from GPS collars to track deer movement, habitat preferences, causes of mortality and deer dispersal rates.

Eric Michel, farmland wildlife research scientist based out of the DNR’s Madelia wildlife research station, stated, ““This is the first study of fawns in southern Minnesota in more than 20 years. It’s important because a lot has changed during that time, including predator populations and land use.”

With the aid of a contracted drone pilot, the research team locates fawns, usually one to five days old, in their natural habitat. From there, a team of three to four people on the ground locates and captures the fawn to check length, weight and overall health while also slipping on a flexible GPS collar that expands as the young deer grows. The whole process is typically completed in about four minutes to minimize stress on the animal.