Title:  Camera Collars for Collecting Interaction Data from Deer
Author(s): David G. Hewitt, Michael J. Lavelle, Kurt C. Vercauteren, USDA; Aaron M. Hildreth, Tyler A. Campbell, David B. Long
Year: 2012
Abstract: Current technological advancements in electronics are enabling wildlife researchers to collect previously unobtainable data. More specifically, researchers have replaced traditional methods, such as direct observation, with animal-borne video cameras to collect behavioral data. As such, we outfitted 26 adult male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) within a closed population (1,000-fenced ac) in southern Texas in fall 2010 with animal-borne cameras. Over a period of 12 days we captured 1,239 video clips including 85 documenting deer-to-deer direct contacts. Direct contacts included licking/grooming (n = 5), sparring (n = 63), nose-to-nose or nose-to-rump contacts (n = 16), and breeding (n = 1). We also recorded 144 video clips of deer within 3.3 ft. of conspecifics. Although we focused on direct interactions that could reveal clues about potential modes of disease transmission, other valuable data acquired using such devices could include behavior, diet, and habitat use. Valuable information pertaining to indirect interactions that may facilitate transmission of disease including focal sites or shared fomites such as feeders could also be documented and quantified. Although our video systems are still in the developmental stages, a commercial product is available and their use will undoubtedly become more widespread.

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