ATS Wildlife Tracking
Advanced Telemetry Systems (ATS)
We have a client that needs to know how whitetail deer utilize their site. Advanced Telemetry Systems (ATS) makes monitoring equipment for mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and marine mammals. We ordered three iridium deer collars and eleven GPS transmitter/tracker collars and are in the process of installing them on representatives of the local deer population.
We have installed bait stations, immobilize the deer with tranquilizers, install the collars, perform biological work-up’s on the specimen deer and then begin the on-going tracking process.
Years ago when I worked for the National Park Service, our mammal tracking efforts required that we work day and night with antennae and earphones to track animals in the field. The louder and faster the ping, the closer we were to the tagged animal. We then had to plot the location on a map and continue tracking over multiple days to develop a triangulation pattern of resource utilization. Those days are over, now for the new technology.
The ATS software runs through Google Earth and satellite. The following image is a screen shot of deer movement.
When you enlarge the screen for close-up detail you can begin to see that each line and point represent a one-hour period, at which time a satellite feed sends the information to our computers. Using the ATS proprietary software, when you click a point it will tell you the time and date of the fixed-point reading. If you click the line, it will tell you the distance the deer moved from the last hour point.
The software can be manipulated to overlay different animals, select days or weeks, and better hone-in on movement and utilization patterns.
As I evaluate these maps in detail, I can see pinch points where animals may follow streams and go over road crossings, follow fence lines, where they bed down or loaf, and preferred fields where they forage. When we go out to ground-truth we can see what forbs and grasses in fields they may favor, and then develop habitat manipulations to possibly reduce road kill or ways to better keep them away from site assets.
I know what you are thinking, how do we recover the expensive deer collars? When the study period nears it’s end, we will track the animals via our mapping and daily, near real-time updates, anticipate their upcoming moves, and be in a deer stand to re-dart and immobilize the animals for recovery. We have had one deer hit by a car. When the animal went off into the woods to die, an alarm was sent to the computer to alert us that the animal had not moved for a 24-hour period and gave us the GPS latitude/longitude coordinates for recovery.
Very cool technology.