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Elk, mule deer to be tracked with satellite GPS collars in Colorado

GPS collars will record the positions of each animal for the next three to five years.

DENVER — Studies of elk and mule deer have begun with the deployment of satellite GPS collars on adult does (female deer) and cow (female) elk along Colorado's Front Range, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) announced Tuesday.

CPW said the goals of the studies are to identify mule deer and elk seasonal ranges, migration corridors, habitat use and future habitat improvement projects.

The animals will be captured by a professional capture crew using helicopter net guns while CPW personnel on the ground use immobilization techniques.

The deer and elk will be captured in several areas on winter range east of the Continental Divide, ranging from the Wyoming border down into South Park. Project areas include private land, state and federal lands as well as Jefferson and Boulder County Open Space properties, according to CPW.

The GPS collars will record the positions of each animal for the next three to five years and daily position updates will be available to biologists via email notifications throughout the study.

Credit: Jason Clay/CPW
A herd of elk in South Park by Reinecker Ridge on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021.

CPW said if an animal dies during the study, a mortality signal will be sent to the local wildlife biologist, who will search for the animal’s carcass, determine the cause of death and collect biological samples.

The studies are the result of years of planning and collaboration between CPW, Jefferson and Boulder counties, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to CPW.

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