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A Project of Patience

Melissa Anderson, an undergraduate student  who worked as a research technician this past summer, poses with a doe during a capture-and-collar session earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Jon McRoberts and CAFNR News.

Billy Dooling, left, crew leader in the south-central Ozarks research area, and graduate student Chloe Wright capture and collar an adult doe in February of 2015. Photo by Emily Flinn, courtesy of CAFNR News. 

To everyday motorists, they might be a potential calamity on a curvy road late at night. To hunters, they might represent an opportunity for a victorious weekend morning.

To certain individuals at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences and the Missouri Department of Conservation, though, white-tailed deer are the reason behind an extensive five-year undertaking to study the survival, reproduction and movement patterns of a dynamic mammal that affects nearly everyone in Missouri in one way or another. The findings will be applied to future deer population models, disease management protocols and localized deer management practices.

“It’s a proactive approach to manage the deer herd more effectively that will benefit all Missourians,” said Jon McRoberts, a postdoctoral research associate who is helping oversee the project. “The project is not something that’s being done for a select group. If it can be managed to effectively reflect what people want and what’s environmentally sound, then it’s going to be a good situation for everybody… It just allows for a more complete understanding of what might happen.”

Starting this past January, a team led by McRoberts, graduate student Chloe Wright, and MDC deer biologist Emily Flinn, has been conducting research by collaring and tracking both male and female deer of all ages in two four-county areas in the northern glaciated plains in the northwest (Andrew, DeKalb, Gentry and Nodaway counties) and the in the Ozarks in the south-central (Douglas, Howell, Texas and Wright).

It should be noted that 100 percent of the land in the northwest and close to 95 percent in the south-central being used for the study is privately owned. “Without that private land cooperation, we wouldn’t be able to do this study,” McRoberts said of the partnerships his team has formed with farmers and landowners.

“I just wanted to know how the deer population was in our area,” said Ernie Ehlers, a participating farmer who owns approximately 1,100 acres in western Texas County and a smaller portion in Wright County. “I was glad to let them try to track deer on our farm.”


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About this Story

Campus: UMC
Key words: Agriculture, MU Campus, Science, Teaching, Technology, UM System,
County: Boone