TOWN OF BRIGHAM — The Department of Natural Resources five year (and then some) Southwest Wisconsin CWD, deer, and predator study in Grant, Iowa and Dane counties is entering the third winter of netting adult deer. An absence of winter snow and cold have slowed the netting this year.
Deer are netted by dropping a large mesh net onto feeding deer using a remote trigger. Deer are immediately calmed by holding them down under the net while a tranquilizer is administered. A cut-away stocking cap is placed over the deer's face after eye drops are administered to keep the eyes moist.
Numerous samples and measurements are taken, two ear tags and a GPS neck collar are attached, which stays with the deer until it dies from hunting, vehicle crash, predator or disease. The GPS unit sends signals to a researcher's computers so the animal's movement can be tracked. When a deer remains still for a long period, a different signal is transmitted indicating the animal may be dead.
A reversal drug is used to encourage the animal to wake up and run away. The drugs used to tranquilize the deer are similar to drugs used, for example, during a human colonoscopy, so there is no memory of the episode. In fact, deer netted often return to the netting site the next evening.
To date, during the two-plus years about 200 fawns have been hand-captured and collared, along with 329 deer, 35 bobcats and 57 coyotes. The collared animals may be legally hunted during normal
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seasons. About 225 landowner volunteers have permitted netting and trapping of the animals.
Some of the studies' purposes include deer survival, CWD prevalence, and bobcat and coyote abundance.
The majority of the crew members, DNR employees, are college-aged students from across the country.
More details of the study can be found on the DNR website at https://dnr.wi.gov.