2019 was our first year of monitoring white tailed deer among the forest harvest blocks of west-central Alberta. We’re interested because species of deer are important pieces to the caribou conservation puzzle.
In general, what’s good for deer is bad for caribou. Their habitat needs are pretty different and having a lot of extra deer hanging around in caribou ranges invites predators. Essentially, when an area becomes deer-friendly, there goes the neighbourhood.
We got a year of GPS collar data from six deer: three males and three females.
We have discovered that deer like to do their own thing. They just hung around the same spot all winter, maybe not the wisest move considering that three other deer got eaten pretty nearby. Once spring hit, three ventured out for a summer of exploration and (we hope) personal growth. Then they came back to where we caught them the winter before in time for the fall rut. It looks like d4 and d6 even spent the rut together and made d2 feel like a third wheel. One sympathises.
This winter, we got collars on 14 new deer and they have done a much better job of staying out of a carnivore’s belly, so stay tuned for the next set of moving dots.