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Central High School students tracking GPS-collared mule deer

Student's at Cheyenne's Central High School tracking GPS-collared mule deer to study migration

2/8/2018 12:31:04 PM

Laramie -

Central High students learn about mule deer migration
CHEYENNE - Students at Cheyenne’s Central High School are working with wildlife biologists tracking GPS-collared mule deer to learn about migration.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) teamed up with Teacher Kim Parfitt’s Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science class, the Laramie County Conservation District (LCCD) and the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Citizen’s Science Initiative (WyoBio) to study mule deer populations in Cheyenne.

Earlier this year, the students learned about mule deer migration from Wyoming’s Red Desert to Hoback Junction. At 150 miles, it is the longest large mammal migration in the Lower 48 states. That lesson got them curious about smaller migrations that occur in animal populations. Parfitt began investigating ways to help the students learn more. With a grant from the Muley Fanatics Foundation Southeast Wyoming Chapter, the LCCD and WGDFD developed a partnership with three AP classes at Central High School to use remote sensing to study mule deer behavior in an urban setting. The $3,000 grant from Muley Fanatics paid for the purchase of two GPS collars.
The partners provided a field trip earlier in the school year to teach students about trapping and monitoring deer and identifying the vegetation they eat. The students also learned about data management in collaboration with the University of Wyoming’s Geographic Information Science Center and the Biodiversity Institute. 

In mid-January, wildlife biologists tranquilized a mule deer doe in a small herd near the center of town and fitted it with a GPS collar. A second mule deer will soon be collared within city limits to give the students additional data. Satellite data from the GPS collars will reveal six locations per day for each collard deer over the next two years. Data will be analyzed using Excel and Google Earth and possibly Arc-GIS software.

Citizens can see where the deer go and learn more about the project by visiting the following link:
The students developed questions that they hope to answer based on the data obtained from the collars. Student spokeswoman Kate Hayes-Siltzer said she signed up for the AP class to learn how she could help the environment. “This project is real world learning. It lets us shine a light on where our deer are going and what they’re doing. As our city grows, maybe we can make better decisions that help our wildlife that we care about,” she said.

Students will work in teams to collaborate on education, data management and social media efforts to engage the community in using electronic tools such as WyoBio to record wildlife observations. They will also create a public Canvas page and the Schoolway channel to broadcast results of the study to the public.

Parfitt said additional tools, apps, or programs may emerge as students develop solutions to challenges and as data about deer movement is analyzed.  In the second phase of the project, school visits, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) night, a public outreach program and news articles will encourage Cheyenne residents to get involved in observing and learning about our local deer. The classes will develop a project guidebook to prepare the next year’s AP students to continue the project.


- WGFD -

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