MDC using satellite technology for deer study

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St. Joseph, Mo. – Deer hunters in northwest Missouri may see deer wearing radio collars when they head into the woods this fall. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) asks that hunters harvest these deer, if appropriate to seasons and methods. The collars are a tool in a five-year study to evaluate white-tailed deer reproduction and movement patterns. Normal harvest of collared deer will make data collected for the study more useful, said Emily Flinn, MDC deer biologist.

"To keep the study accurate to what actually happens to the herd, we don't want to alter what happens during deer hunting season," Flinn said. "If a hunter sees a collared deer that they could legally, and would normally, harvest, they should still do so, even if it's wearing a collar."

MDC crews last winter captured and placed radio collars and ear tags on about 90 deer at locations scattered throughout Nodaway, Gentry, Andrew and DeKalb counties. Then the deer were immediately released. Similar research is underway in a study area in the southern Missouri Ozarks.

The tracking collars regularly transmit each deer's location using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology. Computers then help biologists collect and analyze the data. More deer will be collared starting in early January.

This study is one of the most comprehensive deer research projects conducted in Missouri, Flinn said. Data collected will aid biologists in years to come with applications to population models and disease management protocols. MDC utilizes several sources of data to monitor Missouri's deer population. This study includes monitoring bucks and does of all ages throughout the year. The study includes collecting data on deer mortality, whether by natural causes or hunter harvest.

In addition to normal checking procedures, MDC asks hunters to call the phone number on the collar or small ear tag to report that they harvested a collared deer.

This study is a cooperative partnership with the University of Missouri at Columbia and is funded with assistance from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Funds.

For information about deer management in Missouri, contact Flinn at or 573-815-7901, ext. 3619. Jon McRoberts is project leader for the UMC research team and can be contacted at or 573-881-1978.

For information about deer hunting in Missouri, visit

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