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New Research Assistant Ready to Tackle the Job

Living in a remote camp in the winter, enduring long days in cold temperatures, and ultimately, tackling deer might not appeal to everyone, but it’s what Erin Tattersall calls, “the good life.”

Erin is the new Caribou Program Research Assistant, partly funded by a Career Launcher Clean Tech Internship. She joins a team that is trying to figure out which characteristics of cutblocks are attractive or unattractive to moose, deer, and elk. The idea is that if the forest industry can make a cutblock less favourable for those species, then it will draw fewer predators and be safer for caribou.

One part of Erin’s job is to check trail cameras to see which animals visit all the different kinds of cutblocks around caribou ranges. Walking, and perhaps later snowshoeing, through the woods to download photos and replace batteries is satisfying for Erin.

“I like being immersed in the area I’m studying. It puts the research in context and I can see what it’s like for the animals we’re studying.”

The other part of the project involves fitting deer with GPS collars to see how important cutblocks are to them. To do that, the team will have to trap a deer, and hold it still long enough to get the collar on. The first step is to find really good places to build Clover traps, so Erin and the other are putting in hours checking and rechecking site after site for repeated visits by deer.

Then in the new year, the real fun begins. If all goes well, deer will step a little too far into the traps, triggering the door to lock and alerting the team. They will then race out to the site, don hockey pads, jump in the trap, pin the deer down, fit it with a collar, and let it run off.

Asked what part of her job she’s looking forward to, Erin mentions learning about telemetry, but then she grins, “I’m also excited for the deer capture.”

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