A whitetail buck collared for a deer study in Missouri was recorded traveling about 180 miles over 22 days, the longest distance scientists have ever recorded for a whitetail. The next-closest monitored whitetail deer travels were about 100 miles less.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire. They collared more than 600 deer for their study.
"This extraordinary movement just jumped out from the others we tracked," said Remington Moll, assistant professor of wildlife ecology and lead author. "At first, we thought it was an error. It looks like someone took the GPS collar and drove across the state of Missouri."
Not only did the deer travel far, but it went through some dangerous places along the way. It crossed a major river seven times, an interstate highway, a railroad and eight state highways. The period of the study was in November, which is during the Missouri deer hunting season.
The researchers noted the deer’s trips were unusual for an adult male, which typically has a home range where it hangs out as opposed to younger males who are willing to travel to increase their chance of breeding with females.
"We call this a rare event, but we haven't been putting collars out for that long, and not in these large numbers," Moll said. "It's entirely possible that it could be happening with greater frequency than we've known."
Male deer traveling long distances is bad news when it comes to diseases like chronic wasting disease, or CWD. Males are more likely to be infected, meaning they could be spreading the illness a long ways. Biologists sometimes try to contain CWD outbreaks by reducing deer populations.
CWD is always deadly and can live in the environment for years.
— Brett French, firstname.lastname@example.org