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IRON RIVER – Students from Baraga High School got a first-hand look at how the Michigan DNR are tracking the migration patterns of deer across the U.P.

Dubbed the Upper Peninsula Deer Movement Study, the goal is to collar 150 deer among three areas: Little Girls Point, Lake Gogebic, and West Iron County.

“Right now there’s concern that CWD is moving northward in Wisconsin,” said Tyler Petroelje, research associate with Mississippi State University. “It has not been found in the Upper Peninsula yet and we want to make sure we have a better understanding of how deer are moving so that if CWD is discovered, we’ll have the best available information to determine where the resources should be put towards slowing or stoping the spread of CWD.”

CWD, or Chronic Wasting Disease, is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose resulting in abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and eventually death. The study is a cooperative project between Mississippi State University and the DNR. both wildlife management and research sections.

“The deer trapping has been going very well in all three of the study areas that we’ve been looking at,” says Petroelje. “We’ve had very high trap success. It looks like there’s a lot of young deer this year so that’s helped us get the numbers that we need. Even though we’re collaring 150, so far we’ve captured 170 deer.”

When a deer is captured, it takes quite the skill and manpower to restrain it. Neck measurements are taken for collar sizing along with foot and chest measurements.

Auto-cad students at Baraga High School helped design the traps for the DNR.

“It was just really fun, watching deer and how they trap them,” said Zachary Sackett, student from Baraga High School. “Just watching them use what we created and built.”

“It was a long process but they got to see it from paper all the way to the full construction and then being used to trap the deer,” said John Filpus, Industrial Arts teacher at Baraga High School.

The GPS collars record two locations per day and last 3 to 5 years before they fall off with a leather link that rots away. That way tracking can begin in no time.

You can find some more information on CWD right here.