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March 31, 2014

Team studying differences among Indiana deer

BLOOMINGTON (AP) — It looks like it's not just city mice and country mice that are different.

Research on fawns in Bloomington and Monroe and Brown counties shows that it also may be true of white-tailed deer.

"Deer in town appear to stay in town, and the deer out of town seem to stay out of town," said Tim Carter, associate professor at Ball State University and the researcher leading the three-year deer study of fawns in the area.

Carter, his associates and volunteers first collared newborn fawns last spring so they could track them throughout their first year.

In all, 47 fawns were collared. Of those, 29 were in urban areas, meaning Bloomington, and 18 were in rural Monroe and Brown counties.

During the first year, 17 collars were collected after the fawns were either killed or the collars slipped off the animals, with 11 fawns dying for a variety of reasons.

"All of the fawns that still have their collars are still being tracked for their movement and survival," Chad Williamson, a Ball State graduate student who is involved with the research project, told The Herald-Times.

The researchers use radio telemetry to locate the animals. As the distance between tracker and deer shrinks, the beeps become louder.

If the signal emitted by the collar doesn't move within a four-hour period, the timing of the beeps emitted by the collar changes to a "mortality" beep, which is very rapid. The researchers then track down the collar to determine if the fawn is dead or if it has just lost the collar.

One surprise the researchers had was the number of collars that slipped off the deer. More urban deer slipped a collar, in large part due to all the structures such as fences and buildings that they go over and under during their travels around the city.

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