Road to Preservation

Why are mule deer being blindfolded, sent up in helicopters, and having their teeth pulled? It’s all to track and conserve their migration routes.

February 03, 2015

"As a small group of scientists and volunteers waits by the side of a gravel road here, a helicopter swoops down, carrying two blindfolded mule deer in slings. It hovers for a moment in a furious swirl of rotor-blown snow, detaching the deer slings. As it lifts and turns, the team runs into the stinging cloud. Team members carry the deer on canvas stretchers to a spot to be weighed and tested. From each animal, they draw blood, pull a whisker, check a GPS collar or put on a new one, take a rectal temperature and fecal sample, perform an ultrasound on the haunches, shoot a local anesthetic into the jaw, and pull a tooth. Ten minutes of probing and testing later, the deer are freed and dash off, with numb mouths and doses of antibiotics, perhaps wondering what in the world just happened."

—From “For Mule Deer, an Incredible Journey,” James Gorman’s New York Times article about how wildlife biologists in Wyoming are tracking and preserving the ungulate’s migration route

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