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National Park Service gathering data on deer herd

November 28, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - The bright yellow tags hanging from her ears might make her look a little funny, but don't let them denigrate deer No. 1's intelligence.

The first of about 80 bucks, does and fawns captured and tagged last winter by National Park Service employees at Antietam National Battlefield, deer No. 1 has provided officials with a lot of data about the traveling habits of local deer.

Deer No. 1 was tagged while on the middle of the battlefield, but was later spotted west of Boonsboro - 6 1/2 to 7 miles away. She had apparently gone to that area, which offered less human impact, fewer deer and better food, to give birth to her fawns.

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A week ago, with firearms hunting season quickly approaching, the doe made her way back to Antietam.

"She knows there's no hunting allowed on the battlefield," said Duane Marcus, a biological technician at Antietam who handles most of the wildlife management for the park. "It's probably a learned response. Something she learned from her parents."

Marcus and Joe Calzarette, natural resources manager for Antietam, set up an information booth Saturday at Battleview Market next to the park to explain to hunters the purpose of their tagging study.

They stressed that tagged deer can be harvested. All they ask is that the hunter who kills a tagged deer reports where the deer was killed.

The two-year study will offer insight into where and how far deer travel. It's being conducted by the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institute, Shepherd University and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Another 30 to 35 deer will be tranquilized and tagged later this year, Calzarette said.

Although no tagged deer had yet been brought to Battleview Market by Saturday afternoon, a few were brought in during the state's muzzleloader season last month. A few killed on roads also have been found.

Those who live near the battlefield and have spotted a tagged deer can help with the study, called Antietam National Battlefield's White-tailed Deer Movement Study.

Fliers that are available at the market and park have a form where people can fill in where and when they spotted a tagged deer, how many other deer accompanied it, its habitat and any other identifiers - such as the number of points on its antlers if the deer was a buck.

Anyone who wants to help with the study or has questions about it may call 301-432-2243.

Results from the study will benefit not only scientists, but hunters as well, Marcus said.

"Hunters will have a better understanding of their herd," he said.

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