Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Capturing Deer in Mojave National Preserve Part II

Yesterday we went through the steps of what a deer capture entails. Today we'll fill in some more of the details. Although I didn't get to ride in the helicopter in the air, they let me get in to pose for a photo. I can imagine that being the gunner would be a very interesting job--but also a cold one. Most mornings when we started, the temperatures were below freezing, and a cold wind blew all day.

After the nets are deployed, they are collected and brought back and have to be repacked. The first step is to lie them flat and get all the sticks and cactus spines out of them.

Then they are held in a special way so they can be packed into the little orange box, which fits the net gun.

The final step is to put some masking tape over the top. Then the net is reloaded and ready to go.

We captured deer at three locations, and our second location was next to an outcropping of granite rocks. While I was waiting for a deer, I scampered around the rocks and managed to get this fun picture of the helicopter flying out in the distance.

Here's a view of the helicopter bringing  in a deer next to the outcropping. The rocks provided a bit of a windbreak, and they soaked up the sun so we could find a few warm spots next to them. Although the Mojave Desert is warmer than the Great Basin Desert, it can still be quite chilly in winter!

This is a view of the processing area from up on the rocks. The tarp that's stretched out is where we took the deer.

At the second and third locations, we were able to release the deer from the processing sites. This was probably the most dangerous part of the operation for us on the processing teams, because the deer could be unpredictable. For the release, three people held the deer, one at the head, and two on the body. The feet were unhobbled, the blindfold removed, and on the count of three, the deer was released.

As the people moved back, the deer bolted upright.

This particular deer was very energetic, and after bouncing up, bounced back down.

But then she found her balance and was running off.
She ran until she was out of sight. The video shows a release from our third site, which was in a Joshua tree forest


The Incredible Woody said...

I am loving this - it sounds so exciting!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like fun, wish we were there!
-R&S, Ohio

Dessert Survivor said...

You forgot the video. But I found it on youtube. Search for TheDesertSurvivor.

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