Deer Study to Begin in Elm Creek Park Reserve

January 24, 2023

Three Rivers Park District is partnering with the University of Minnesota on a research project to monitor white-tailed deer for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, their habitat use, and movement in and around Elm Creek Park Reserve. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. White-tailed deer get the virus from humans and then can transmit it within the deer population. Targeted monitoring will involve placing GPS tracking collars on deer and sampling the same deer for the virus multiple times when possible. How deer utilize the urban-suburban landscape is an understudied area of research that has important implications for deer management, including the reduction of negative human-deer interactions (e.g., car collisions, disease transmission). The Park District will use the information gathered by the study in its deer management program.

Forty deer will be captured so biological samples can be taken and a GPS tracking collar can be placed on each deer. The collar will transmit the location of the deer every 30 minutes. This will allow the researchers to monitor the deer movements throughout the area. Deer will be captured using a helicopter and net guns to capture them quickly and safely. A low-flying helicopter will be seen in and around Elm Creek Park Reserve during the capture period. The captures are planned for late January or early February with recaptures occurring about five weeks later. The exact dates are dependent on weather. It is estimated that it will take two days to capture and collar the deer. 

Eastman Nature Center will share information about the deer movements with park visitors later in the spring.