RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Triangle is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.
As the Triangle expands with more development, researchers at North Carolina State University want to know how white-tailed deer move through the growing suburban area.
They’re also looking at how deer behavior, movement and cause-specific mortalities may vary across urbanization.
This is because with more people come more interactions with wildlife.
“Things like deer coming in and eating your flower beds or vegetable gardens,” said Dr. Nathan Hostetter, a researcher and assistant professor at NC State. “They also need to cross the increasing number of roads, which can lead to increased vehicle collisions.”
The researchers are using collars to track deer in Durham County and Orange County, and then using that data to understand the area on a broader scale.
Researcher Mikiah Carver explained that they have different collars for bucks, does and fawns that track the deer’s location.
The collars are made to eventually break off in about one year.
Researchers say the deer they’re studying can still be hunted, even if they’re wearing the collars or ear tags.
Why more deer in the Triangle?
Moriah Boggess, a deer biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, says we are seeing more deer in the Triangle over the past few decades.
“As development has continued, of course the amount of good-quality deer habitat keeps getting whittled down and the deer are becoming more and more concentrated in the areas that are left,” he explained.
He said deer will make a living wherever they can — even perhaps in your neighborhood.
Boggess also pointed out that harvest on the deer population also declines as the population expands to more rural areas.
“Regulated hunting, which is our primary tool for managing populations, becomes less and less feasible as there’s more people, there’s more and more obstructions and safety, of course, is an issue,” said Boggess.
How to get involved
NC State researchers say you can get involved their study too.
“We get all the information from their collars, but if there’s an opportunity for someone locally to take a picture of it, they can upload it to our facebook page,” said Dr. Hostetter.
The study is expected to wrap up around 2025, and then researchers will analyze the data and write up their reports and publications.
Click here to visit their Facebook page.