Former Deer Lab member accepts job with national focus
Effective July, Elizabeth Miller was selected for a new position within USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) Operational Support Staff. Now based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, Elizabeth’s area of focus will be the agency’s nation-wide efforts to mitigate predator conflict. Much of this work includes integrated predator damage management programs to protect livestock from depredation from grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, and coyotes.
Elizabeth graduated from Warnell in 2010 with a BSFR in Wildlife, and immediately began studying in the deer lab under Drs. Miller and Warren. She began her career with WS at their Predator Research Field Station of the National Wildlife Research Center after completing her MS in 2013. Elizabeth returned to Athens in 2014 to serve as a Wildlife Biologist in the Georgia WS Program’s state office. In this role, she assisted landowners in resolving wildlife conflict affecting agriculture, private property, natural resources, or human health and safety. Common species involved in these conflicts included white-tailed deer, beavers, vultures, pigeons, Canada geese, and feral swine. Other regular duties included assisting airports with hazardous wildlife and assisting wildlife disease surveillance efforts.
Former Deer Lab member earns State Director job
In July, Odin Stephens was selected as Georgia's new State Director of U.S.D.A. APHIS Wildlife Services (WS). In this role, he will lead a team of wildlife specialists and biologists to manage wildlife for the purpose of reducing damage to agriculture and property, minimizing threats to public health and safety, and protecting natural resources.
Odin graduated from Warnell in 2005 with a M.S. degree in Wildlife and Forest Resources. While enrolled at UGA, he volunteered with Georgia WS on Canada goose and urban deer projects. When he graduated, Virginia WS hired him as a Wildlife Specialist, where he provided corrective and preventive coyote control for livestock producers. This was his first of several jobs with WS on his way to lead the Georgia program. In 2006, he was selected for a Wildlife Biologist position at Moody AFB in South Georgia. In 2008, he was selected for a Wildlife Biologist position in coastal Georgia where he conducted wildlife hazard assessments and assisted with feral swine, urban deer, beaver and Canada goose projects. In 2010, he was selected as the Georgia Rabies Biologist. In 2015, he was selected as a Georgia District Supervisor.
We couldn't be more proud of Odin. We know that his excellent management skills and strong work ethic will enable him to excel in his new role at Georgia WS.
Update on South Florida deer study
Members of the South Florida deer study, including PhD student Lydia Stiffler and Dr. Richard Chandler, submitted the final project report to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on June 30, 2019. The document addressed the effects of hydrology, hunting, and predation on deer population dynamics in South Florida and the development of a camera trapping protocol for continual monitoring of deer populations within the region. Following an internal review process by FWC, the final report will be released to the public.
In addition, the research team presented results of the 4-year project to representatives of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and FWC on August 6, 2019 at the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida. More detailed information about this collaborative research, including quarterly reports, is available from the FWC at South Florida Deer Project.
Update on the Appalachian deer study
During January-April, graduate student researchers (Adam Edge, Jackie Rosenberger and Cheyenne Yates) and their field technicians captured 36 adult female deer on Blue Ridge and Cooper's Creek Wildlife Management Areas in North Georgia. Each doe was fitted with a GPS collar, ear tags and a specially designed radio transmitter to signal when their fawns were born. The deer capture team subsequently captured 32 fawns during May-July and fitted them with radio-telemetry collars. More information about the fate of the fawns is available on the Appalachian deer study web page.
Lindsay Thomas Jr., Director of Communications for the Quality Deer Management Association, authored an online article titled, "College football playoffs of deer science". He did a great job of comparing deer research programs of the nation's colleges and universities to collegiate football programs. Much like time-honored powerhouse football teams, certain deer research teams have consistently excelled over time in spite of periodic roster changes. However, unlike football rivals, deer research teams from various schools often collaborate to gain a collective win for the resource (i.e., deer) and those that benefit from the research ( i.e., deer managers and deer hunters). The Deer Lab at The University of Georgia was recognized as a strong contender in the National Championship of deer research. That is quite an honor! One thing is certain. The UGA Deer Lab has been blessed with many outstanding faculty, staff and students during the years. We look forward to an equally bright future.
Aren't deer amazing creatures?
Jordan Dyal, graduate student on the central Florida project, wanted to share this sequence of time-lapse photos of a collared buck on his study site. Trail cameras captured the buck just as his tines were forming (left, June 17), before complete antler growth and mineralization (middle, July 5) and after mineralization and velvet shedding (right, August 12).
South Carolina coyote project team hits the road for answers
For the last month, Ph.D. student Jordan Youngmann and his project technicians (Emily Masterton and Adam McFall) have been driving roads around 7 sampling sites in South Carolina. Jordan will estimate coyote abundance at each site by collecting scat and using genetics to identify individual coyotes for spatial capture-recapture models.
Area Covered: 1399 square miles
Percentage of South Carolina: 4.4%
Length of Transects: 440 miles
Average Speed Driven: ~12 miles/hour
Total Man Hours: ~200 hours
Total Scat Collected to Date: 130
Stay tuned as they finish out their field season and begin the lab work required to genotype each scat.
Deer Lab member completes research and earns Ph.D.
On July 9, James Johnson successfully defended his doctoral dissertation. His research, under the direction of Dr. Karl V. Miller and Dr. Richard Chandler looked at using unbaited trailcameras, collared-deer movements and modern statistical techniques to estimate deer population density on 4 study sites in southwestern Georgia. He compared deer density estimates among unbaited and baited camera surveys and distance sampling surveys. In addition, he looked at seasonal shifts in deer distribution across each property, including shifts associated with baiting.
We soon will provide a link to more detailed information from Dr. Johnson's research. Following his dissertation defense, James and his wife, Nicki, took a much deserved vacation to Montana.
Deer Lab alumnus returns to help manage deer on private lands
Dr. Emily Belser earned her M.S. degree at the UGA Deer Lab where she studied cranial abscess disease of deer under the direction of Dr. Karl V. Miller. She then earned her Ph.D. at Texas A&M-Kingsville and spent the last couple of years as a private lands biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. We are excited that she has returned to Georgia as a private lands wildlife biologist in the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s brand new Deer Management Assistance Program. Emily will spend the majority of her time working with hunt clubs and private landowners to improve deer and turkey habitat, manage their populations, and put the latest and greatest wildlife research into practice out on the landscape. She is based in Cordele and will serve the bulk of South Georgia to roll out this new program.
Deer Lab member takes flight in central Florida
Jordan Dyal will begin aerial surveys to determine sightability of deer from a helicopter on a 5,500-acre study site in central Florida. He will be using statistical methods to estimate detection probability of deer across the property as a function of vegetation type, distance from transect, and light conditions. Twenty-eight archery targets and/or deer decoys will serve as surrogates for free-ranging deer. The targets and decoys will be moved to new locations between each of 12 aerial surveys. Observers in the helicopter will be unaware of their locations before each flight. Therefore, a survey to detect them along each flight path will test the accuracy of this population estimate technique for free-ranging deer in this habitat type. We will post more photos and information on Jordan's project page.
Georgia Public Broadcasting begins filming a future episode focused on Georgia deer
Graduate students Adam Edge and Jackie Rosenberger recently spoke with a film crew from Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) to explain the background of the North Georgia Deer Project, the equipment used to make the project possible, and why the research is important for the state. The GPB crew filmed one of the first fawn captures of the season and witnessed its release back to Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area.
In addition to this field site-footage, the GPB crew recently filmed interviews with Dr. Gino D'Angelo, Charlie Killmaster (Georgia's State Deer Biologist), Zach Wesner and David Osborn at the Whitehall Deer Research Facility in Athens.
Deer Lab has strong presence at Trout Unlimited event
At the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery's Kid's Fishing Rodeo on June 8, Adam Edge and Jackie Rosenberger spread awareness about the summer fawning season. They also used this event to provide the public with information about the North Georgia Deer Project in hopes of building relationships with landowners and outdoor recreationists in the region. Public outreach is of great importance to the UGA Deer Lab.
Deer Lab supports local wildlife education center
The UGA Deer Lab recently donated several antlers from our Whitehall Deer Research Facility to Hardigree Wildlife Sanctuary in Watkinsville, Georgia. The adjacent photo was taken at a kid's camp hosted by Hardigree, where youngsters learned about wildlife conservation and white-tailed deer biology. The sanctuary's executive director, Steve Scruggs, said most of the camp participants had never before held deer antlers and enjoyed the opportunity to study them.
Central Florida bucks have adapted well to their GPS collars
Graduate student, Jordan Dyal has been monitoring GPS-collared bucks at his study site in central Florida. As you can see in the adjacent photo, by late-May, bucks already had a lot of antler growth.
Status updates on 3 ongoing research projects
North Georgia Mountains Deer Project:
Cheyenne Yates, Adam Edge, Jackie Rosenberger and their field technicians have completed another year of deer capture on Blue Ridge and Cooper's Creek Wildlife Management Areas. They captured 47 deer. Of those, 25 were adult does, which they fitted with GPS collars, numbered ear tags and intravaginal transmitters (VITs). The does will expel the VITs when they give birth to this year's fawns. We then will use the resulting radio signals to locate and capture their fawns, so we can collar them, too. Twenty two of the 47 captured deer were bucks or last year's fawns. Those deer received only ear tags and will be used as marked samples in our deer population surveys based on trail camera photos.
GPS Fawn Collar and Acorn Preference Projects:
Zach Wesner is awaiting this year's fawn crop at the Whitehall Deer Research Facility. When fawns are born, he again will take anatomical measurements and fit a sub-sample of fawns with expandable GPS collar mock-ups. We provided the participating telemetry companies with information about fit and function of last year's collars. They made collar modifications based on our observations and Zach is eager to test the new designs. In regards to the acorn preference trials, Zach has completed his observations and is beginning to analyze data.
Deer Lab member gets married
David Osborn and Hope Callaway were married on April 28. Their ceremony was performed at the First African Baptist Church on Cumberland Island, Georgia. This tiny one-room church is a 14-mile drive from the island's southern boat dock along a narrow and bumpDavidy dirt road. The venue is best known as the wedding chapel used by John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette for their top-secret wedding in 1996. Hope's father, Reid Callaway, served as the ordained minister and photographer. Andrea Callaway served as the witness and back-up photographer.
Deer Lab members participate in QDMA Whitetail Weekend
UGA Deer Lab members had a great time at the Quality Deer Management Association's Whitetail Weekend on April 12-13. The event included presentations on many topics related to enjoying and managing whitetails including aging bucks on the hoof, predator trapping, aging deer by tooth replacement and wear, shot placement, how to tune a bow, no-till food plots, what to learn while gutting your deer, bow-range burning, how to make venison sausage, how to use a chainsaw to improve habitat, food plot seed blends and weed control, trail-camera technology, and treestand safety.
In addition, several Deer Lab members (Dr. Gino D'Angelo, Dr. Karl V. Miller and Renee Miller, James Johnson and David Osborn) played an active roll in the event by giving presentations on a variety of topics including black bears and other fawn predators, skinning and quartering deer, deboning venison, where bucks go during the rut, venison recipes and cooking tips, and tree orchards.
QDMA contributes prizes to reward respondents of deer hunter survey
The Quality Deer Management Association donated multiple items to the UGA Deer Lab to be raffled as prizes for hunters participating in a survey. As part of the North Georgia Deer Project, the Deer Lab and Georgia Department of Natural Resources are conducting a survey of hunters to study their experiences and preferences for deer management in light of declining deer populations in the mountains. Hunters who completed questionnaires were automatically entered into a drawing to win a meat grinder, fryer, luggage set, jacket, or knife.
John Eastman, QDMA Senior Director of Operations (left) and Jackie Rosenberger, UGA Deer Lab masters student (right) at the QDMA national headquarters in Athens, Georgia.
Deer Lab members received recognition at national deer conference
Zach Wesner (left) and Adam Edge (middle) were awarded First Place and Jordan Youngmann (right) was awarded Second Place in the student poster competition at the 42 Southeast Deer Study Group meeting in Louisville, Kentucky on February 17-19, 2019. Dr. Gino D'Angelo, Cheyenne Yates and Jackie Rosenberger also presented posters.
Deer Lab member celebrates birth of first child
Today, Jordan Youngmann and his wife Sarah welcomed their first child into the world at 4:30 AM. Their son weighed 7 pounds and 9 ounces (the size of a large fawn). The Deer Lab couldn't be happier for the new parents.
Deer Lab was well represented at international deer conference
The 9th International Deer Biology Congress (IDBC) was held August 5-10, 2018 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The IDBC is a gathering of professionals interested in wild deer biology, management and farmed deer production with the goal of providing a forum to discuss common problems and share knowledge and experiences. The first IDBC was held in New Zealand in 1983 and the meeting has since been hosted in the United States, United Kingdom, Hungary, Canada, Czech Republic, Chile and China.
Dr. Karl V. Miller served on the Scientific Steering Committee of the IDBC and the UGA Deer Lab was well represented at this year’s meeting. Dr. Gino D’Angelo served as Chair of a symposium on the influence of predators on deer in North America. Our faculty, staff, and graduate students presented or co-authored 12 scientific presentations and 2 scientific posters. This was a wonderful opportunity for the UGA Deer Lab to engage with other professionals in the international deer community. In this photo, Cheyenne Yates is eager to discuss her research.