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This week’s PBS “Nature” features CALS deer research

This week’s PBS Nature episode features work by two CALS students and a recent grad. The episode, The Private Life of Deer, includes footage of fieldwork by DNR research scientist Mike Watt, who received his MS in Forest and Wildlife Ecology in 2012, and grad students Andrew Norton and Camille Warbington—both advised by FWE professor Tim Van Deelen. You can see a preview here.

The Nature crew came here to document a major study on deer mortality. Norton’s work focuses on factors related to buck mortality, while Warbington’s work focuses on fawns.

“It’s the biggest project of its type in the history of Wisconsin,” Watt explains. “We’ve got two study areas covering 1,100 square miles, and we expect to catch thousands of deer by the time we’re done with the project.”

The documentary team came to Wisconsin twice. The first visit was in May, when a large group of volunteers from across the state helped the researchers catch fawns.

“It’s like a big Easter-egg hunt,” Watt explains. ““You have a big group of people walking in a line looking for fawns. When fawns are first born, they just lay there; it’s a defense mechanism (see photo). When we find one, we catch it, put on a radio collar and let it go.”

During the second visit, in early September, the film crew filmed basic deer behavior, much of it at night.

The episode is scheduled to air on Wisconsin Public Television on Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

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