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Call the Fawn Hotline – 1-812-822-3308

Or email us at deerstudy@bsu.edu

Tim Carter
Ball State University
Dept of Biology

Dept of Biology


Frequently Asked Questions

These are some questions we commonly get asked.


Click here for the FAQ for the 2013-2014 Fawn Study



Q: Does the collar impact the deer’s behavior?

A:  Deer quickly adjust to the collar and it becomes part of who they are. This is very similar to your dog wearing a collar. When they aren’t wearing it, they feel something just quite isn’t right. The deer will react in a similar fashion. Biologists have been using radio collars to study deer for decades and have been improving the technology to have as little impact on the animal as possible.


Q: Can the collars choke the deer?

A: No. These collars are specifically designed to fit each individual animal and are extremely safe. The buck collars have a unique design, which incorporates a stitched neoprene band into each collar. The band stretches and compensates for seasonal neck growth (e.g., breeding).  The collars also have a safety feature which allows us to remotely break the collar off of the animal via satellite at any time.  


Q: Are these deer being targeted to be removed/killed?

A: No. We are not going to be removing any deer from the area nor will we be targeting them to kill. We are simply looking to see where they are naturally traveling.


Q: How do you catch the deer?

A: We use two methods to catch the deer. 1) A trap called a “drop-net” is set up with bait beneath it. When the deer walks under the net, we push a button, which releases the net and it falls on top of the deer. We then rush in and sedate the deer. We will be using these types of traps in the more urban areas. 2) A box style trap, called a “clover trap” is a steel framed box with nylon mesh sides and a trip wire that triggers a door to fall behind the deer once it is inside. This method is being used in the rural areas.


Q: How often do the deer get injured in the trap?

A: There are always risks involved when capturing wildlife. That being said, severe injury is a highly unlikely outcome when using these types of traps in conjunction with immobilizing sedatives. These traps have been used for decades and have proven themselves to be very safe and effective methods of capture. Further more, the stress level of the animal greatly decreases once they have been sedated making it very difficult for them to hurt themselves.

 Q: Are the drop-nets safe for people to be around?

A: Drop-nets are extremely safe. The default setting is to not drop. The net has extremely strong electromagnets that hold it in place 6 feet off the ground. We have to remove 4 safety pins and connect an electric current to the unit before the net will fall. Without those two actions, the net physically cannot fall.

Q: What is a Clover trap or box trap


A: These traps are being used in the more rural areas surrounding Bloomington. The main structure is constructed of steel pipes that has an extremely strong nylon mesh attached to it. We place some corn near the back of the trap to entice the deer to enter the trap. Once in, there is a trigger mechanism that is tripped by the deer while walking in. This mechanism triggers a gate to drop behind the deer and capture it inside the trap. Once trapped inside, we will move in and administer a sedative to the deer, which will then allow us to handle the deer to obtain valuable information and attach a GPS collar to track it’s movements.

 Q: What is a Drop-net

Drop Net - Buck

A: There are many different drop-net sizes depending on the setting they will be used in. Ours is a 25x25ft electromagnetic drop-net. The supporting structure of the net is four posts that holds the net 6ft above the ground. The posts are secured by weights or by stakes hammered into the ground. The corners of the net are held in place by electromagnets. The net’s default setting is to hold the net in place. In order for the net to drop, four safety pins at the top of the net must be removed and an electric current attached to the unit. Once these two steps are taken, the net is ready to be used. These nets are never left unattended when the safety mechanisms are removed. When the net is dropped, it will silently drop on top of the deer and we will restrain and sedate the deer as quickly as possible.


Q: Will the deer be sedated?

A: Yes. Our goal is to cause as little stress to the deer as possible, and the best way to do this is to sedate the deer with an anesthesia that causes it be unconscious. Some of the sedatives have an amnesia-like effect, meaning they won’t remember being trapped. Once we have attached the collar, taken a genetic sample, and collected any other necessary data, we administer a reversal agent that brings the deer back to consciousness.


Q: How dangerous are the sedatives being used for immobilization?

A: The drugs used in our study are very commonly used sedatives for wildlife immobilization. These sedatives are the same drugs that veterinarians use in small animal clinics and at zoos. As with all sedatives, these substances should be handled very carefully and well understood by the people administering them to the deer. Under DEA research protocol, every drop of drug is accounted for and tracked in a log during every immobilization event. Each member of our staff has had professional training and experience using these sedatives in the field. 


Q: Can the sedatives have a negative effect on the unborn fawn?

A: No, these sedatives are used by veterinarians on pregnant animals in zoos regularly.  The sedatives that we are using have been used for decades on white-tailed deer and have been intensively studied to ensure that they are the safest they can be.


Q: What is a genetic sample?

A:  A genetic sample is simply a small portion of ear cartilage that is removed using a small razor sharp punch. This is a quick and relatively painless procedure done when the deer is unconcious. It’s comparable to getting an ear pierced. The initial shock is the worse part, after that, there is very little soreness and within a few days the whole is completely healed.


Q: How do you make sure the deer is ok while you have it sedated and after it is released?

A: During sedation, we closely monitor the deer’s vitals. We constantly take a pulse, check respiration, and monitor the body temperature. If any of these are concerning, we have the option of using the equipment necessary to quickly address the issue or to administer reversal agents to wake the animal up. Once the animal is no longer sedated and has been released, we closely monitor its movements using the GPS collars.


Q: Can landowners take part in the capture events?

A: Due to liability issues, the general public may not assist in the workup of the animal but are welcome to watch from a safe distance.  


Q: How can I stay informed on the deer that are collared on my land?

A: Once we have a collared deer on your property we offer each landowner the option of giving the deer a name. The landowner will be given information to contact us as needed to request additional information on the home range and fate of the animal. 




If you still have questions or concerns that are not address on this page please contact us and we will respond as soon as we can!

Email us at deerstudy@bsu.edu or call the deer hotline: 812-822-3308