- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (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 (http://bit.ly/1kimi8O ).

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.

“When you find a collar that’s completely stretched out, found on a fence, found on the ground under bushes, it’s very clear to us that it was snagged on something,” Carter said.

When researchers find and collar more fawns this spring, they plan on making the collars a little tougher and tighter. And even though some people may think that could lead to a deer choking to death, Carter said that this technique is used widely in such studies and there have been no reports of a collared deer ever choking to death.

But researchers did find that urban deer were more likely to be killed by vehicles, while rural deer were more likely to be killed by coyotes. Of the fatalities, seven were in Bloomington, with five due to vehicle collisions and two deaths from domestic dogs.

There were four fawns killed in rural areas, with three from coyote predation and one from abandonment.

Williamson said researchers could tell the coyotes killed fawns because there was little left; with dog kills, the fawns were killed and left alone.

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