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Shakopee Mdewakanton, University of Minnesota partner on deer research

Prior Lake, Minn. – The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced it will partner with the University of Minnesota (UMN) to capture and collar white-tailed deer using helicopters starting this week. SMSC staff and UMN researchers will use low-flying helicopters with nets to catch deer, fit them with GPS radio collars, collect health samples and release them to monitor their movements.

This project will help the tribe and UMN researchers understand the local deer population, including the areas deer prefer and areas that might pose risks for deer and human safety. When paired with health data, researchers will also get insights into how habitat use may impact the health of a deer population.

“Our tribe is focused on preserving the environment for future generations,” said SMSC Chairman Keith Anderson. “This includes natural resources management to protect the prairies, forests, wetlands and water on our lands, along with the many animals and plants that live here. This study will help us ensure a healthy habitat and enable researchers to gather data that can benefit other communities.”

Once the deer are released, staff will monitor them via satellite transmission from their collars. The collars will collect data for the next two years, with recaptures planned for winter 2025 to reassess the health of the deer.

“Managing deer populations in densely populated areas is important, but little is actually known about suburban deer ecology,” said Meggan Craft, UMN Associate Professor. “We look forward to working with the SMSC to conduct this study and are hopeful that we will learn a lot about deer movement, health and interactions with humans and other animals.”

UMN researchers started this study in January 2023 in collaboration with Three Rivers Park District at Elm Creek Park Reserve. This study is funded through a cooperative agreement with United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.


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