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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.


Will the fawns be hurt during the study?

No – our intent is to handle fawns for less than 4 minutes. During that time we will take special care to be quiet and gentle around the fawn.  No drugs or chemicals will be used when handling the fawn.  We will take a few measurements of the fawn which will help us estimate the age of the fawn.  We will attach a radio collar to the fawn which will let us track it remotely for a year or more.  When we are done attaching the collar, the fawn will be placed back exactly where it was found and quietly left to get on with its life.  The collar is relatively small and will have a minimal impact on the animal’s life.  We expect that the life of the fawns in the study will be no different than fawns not in the study.


Won’t the doe (mother) abandon the fawn because you handled it?

This is only a concern for fawns handled within the first few hours of life.  Mothers (does) bond with the newly born fawns within a few hours of birth.  If a fawn and doe are disturbed before they bond there is a very real risk that the doe may abandon the fawn.  Because of this risk, we will not work on any fawns that are younger than 6 hours old.  In the event that we find a new born fawn we will mark the location with a GPS unit and simply return later to catch the fawn and attach the radio collar.


Collar picture

Will the collar choke the fawn as it grows and gets bigger?

The collars used in this study are specially and specifically designed for white-tailed deer fawns and have been used without incident in previous studies.  These collars are made of a neoprene type material that allows them to stretch as the fawn grows.  Further the collars have special folds of extra material sewn into them with cotton thread.  As the deer grows the cotton thread begins to disintegrate and releases the folds one at a time allowing the collar to expand as the fawn grows.  The collars have enough stretch and folded material to accommodate the neck of a fully grown deer.


What will be done with the collared animals after the study?

Our intent is to allow these deer to live out their life with the collars on.  It would be far more traumatic to attempt to capture the deer to remove the collars.  This would require the use of drugs and other methods that could potentially cause more harm than good. 

The batteries in the collars have a projected life of 2-3 years.  We hope that we will be able to continue this study down the road after the fawn tracking phase is done and answer some additional questions about the deer herd using these already collard animals.  However, it is too early to make predictions about what other studies may or may not be conducted in the future.


How will I know what happens to the fawns that I reported and were included in the study?

If you report a fawn and we successfully capture and collar the fawn, we will provide you with the unique ID number for that fawn’s collar.  That is the number we will use to follow the entire life history of that animal.  At any time you can send us an email to deerstudy@bsu.edu asking about that ID number and we will provide an update on the status and general location of that animal and as time goes on a history of the animal’s life.


What training do you and your research assistants (students) have in handling white tailed deer?

I have been a wildlife biologist for going on two decades and have work with more species than I can count.  I have indeed worked with deer before. Many of the crew we have hired are highly experienced and have worked on a number of fawns research projects across the country.  We also have some interns that are young "budding" biologists that will be training with us to learn on the job.


What properties will you be accessing? Will you be trespassing on private property in order to find these fawns?

We do not intend to break any laws! We have permission from IU for their properties and we are working with parks to gain access to those properties.  We have also already received support and offers to access private property though out the city from a number of citizens. For the out of town work we will be working in the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests.


Why study them in Bloomington and not somewhere else?

Bloomington provides an excellent opportunity to study the issue of urban deer.  Bloomington is similar to many other cities nationwide that have the beautiful mix of city living with the lush vegetation and scenery of living in a more rural setting.  It is one of the many reasons that residents are so fond of this city.  However, this appeal is equally attractive to many other creatures including deer.  In some cases this has led to higher deer densities than in the surrounding rural areas.  The exact causes for these differences are not entirely known.  So Bloomington offers us an exceptional opportunity to study urban and rural deer in close proximity to see if we can better understand the forces that affect the density of deer in different areas. 


Will this data ever be used as part of a “deer management” scheme? Will those that seek to use lethal control be able to use your data to hunt/cull these deer?

I can not answer that as I was not contracted to be involved with deer management decisions, so it is not my purview to interject my opinion.  I work under the premise that the best decisions are informed decisions based on lots of accurate information.  Even though there are possible negative outcomes of conducting this research you can also say that there are possible negative outcomes of NOT doing this research. I prefer to think of the possible positive outcomes that include a better understanding of the herd and how we might be able to manage deer in ways we had not considered before. With regard to the data collected in this study-- All the data we collect will be publicly available as it was paid for by the state and federal government (freedom of information act).  The information we gather about these deer is designed to be used to understand the general movement of deer in urban and rural settings in Indiana.  As I said earlier we have no hidden agendas as with any science/research we only seek to discover the truth.  The truth is always the best knowledge to have no matter what possible negative outcomes we can imagine.


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 fawn hotline: 812-822-3308