Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has successfully completed a deer capture project involving the Loyalton-Truckee mule deer herd.
This purpose of the capture and study is to help researchers better understand deer migration patterns and reduce the high number of automobile/deer collisions on a busy 25-mile stretch of Highway 89.
Using tranquilizer darts, CDFW wildlife biologists captured 13 does and fitted them with global positioning satellite (GPS) collars. Blood and hair samples were taken, length and weight measurements were recorded and general health inspections were conducted on each animal.
This project was made possible through collaboration between CDFW and the California Deer Association (CDA).
“We are proud to partner with the department and others to ensure important wildlife studies and habitat conservation work continues,” said CDA Chief Executive Officer Roman Porter. “In addition to the grants awarded by CDA’s generous members, fees from hunting licenses and tags also help fund these important efforts to ensure healthy deer herds for years to come.”
The GPS collars will record the location and send the information to researchers through a satellite. This will allow scientists to track the deer as they move from summer to winter ranges throughout the year often crossing Highway 89. Caltrans carcass data have confirmed that more than 1,000 deer have been killed along this busy road in the last 30 years.
“The tracking collars will show us exactly when, where and how the deer move throughout the landscape,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Sara Holm. “This type of information helps us make decisions on what type of crossing structures will make the most difference in saving the lives of both wildlife and people.”
California’s scenic Highway 89 runs through the lush meadows and dense pine trees of the Tahoe National Forest. Its western edge borders the Sagehen Creek Field Station and also happens to bisect the migration route of the Loyalton-Truckee mule deer herd. An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 cars travel Highway 89 each day, making the trip extremely perilous for humans and wildlife alike.
The Loyalton-Truckee mule deer are a migratory herd inside the Tahoe National Forest. The herd occupies the premium deer zones X7a/b. They have been studied for more than a decade for various reasons including health and migration patterns. It is estimated that more than 2,000 deer occupy this area.