Faulty radio collars force scientists to kill 18 deer
Researchers from the University of Zurich say they killed 18 fawns in the canton of Bern because they were fitted with flawed tracking collars that would have caused the young animals great suffering if they were allowed to live.
Professional gamekeepers were hired to shoot the roe deer in the Simmen and Kander valley regions in recent days, the university announced on Tuesday in a news release posted in German on its website.
The fawns were equipped with expandable radio collars in the early summer as part of a study supported by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) to examine the impact of reintroduced lynx on the deer population.
For reasons not yet clarified, the botched collars did not expand as they were supposed to accommodate the growth of the fawns’ necks, the university said.
The animals faced suffering and eventual death from the collars, researchers said.
The problem was detected in mid-August.
University researchers, FOEN officials and the hunting office from the canton of Bern responded by first observing a total of 30 deer which were fitted with the faulty collars, six of which opened.
It appears that other fawn will be destroyed if they can be identified.
Since 2011, a total of 145 roe deer have been fitted with radio collars as part of the lynx study.
The research is intended to help develop “sutainable strategies” for dealing with large carnivores in Switzerland.
After becoming extinct in 1915, lynx were reintroduced to Switzerland in 1971.
The university stressed that the roe deer population in the Simmen and Kander valleys is sufficiently robust to withstand the loss of the 18 fawn.
Meanwhile, the project manager of the lynx study is currently investigating why the collars malfunctioned and whether the project will continue unchanged.