discussion / Biologging  / 14 June 2021

non-invasive technique to apply GPS collars without catching?

Dear all,

I was wondering if they were "passive" techniques to "install" GPS collar or other GPS devices on a terrestrial animal ?

Just a discussion regarding your experiences and feedbacks from test or knowledge regarding such techniques.

The main issue is to make sure that it won't injure the animal.

These GPS devices could be design to take data during a limited period of time and be released, for example could be glued or stitched into the fur and then detached later.

For example, it could be implemented to monitoring elusive invasive mammal species in order to know their distribution area and adapt regulation methods.

In addition, do you know any user-friendly cheap GPS device that could be used on a goat size animal ?

Thank you.

Rob Appleby
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Hi Antoine,

This is aninterest of mine: passively attaching tags. I've long-thought weed burrs, perhaps with a bit of glue, could be used to attach devices. I am super keen to try out methods if you and others are interested. 

From elsewhere, I know there are plans afoot to design passive attachment tags for polar bears: https://polarbearsinternational.org/news/article-research/qa-burr-on-fur/

And years ago somebody wrote an article about 'self-attaching' wolf (I think) collars, that were sort of like a snare that broke away once it was around a wolf's neck. I can't find the paper but if I do I'll send a link.

There's also this: https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wsb.1034

If you let me know an email address I can send you the article. It's a crazy, but amazing set up. 

There are a few more things around, but suprisingly, this is an area needing a lot more attention I think.

In terms of cheap-ish store-on-board GPS, a popular unit is the i-gotU GT-120, but I think they are hard to get as they are a fairly old unit. I think (but am not sure) that these are very similar, so try here maybe: http://www.mr-lee-catcam.de/pe_cc_i9.htm (see the Shop page). 

There's also the GT-600 (which I haven't used before), but at least looks like you can still buy (e.g. https://canadagps.ca/products/i-gotu-gt-600-usb-gps-travel-sports-logger-motion-sensor-photo-geotagger-262-000-records-water-resistant-65nm-sirf-iii-gps-chipset). It has Bluetooth if that's of any use...Usually, people hack the case open on i-gotUs and add a bigger battery (but I've only ever been able to get larger capacity lipo packs to work). But, if you only want relatively short deployments, you could probably leave it as is. You might have to make sure the top switch can't be accidentally triggered though. 

There are lots of other GPS systems around, but most are more expensive. 

Happy to chat more about any of this...





If the animal is truly elsusive, not knowing when the tag would fall of, where it would fall off, if I can get it once it falls off would be questions I would need to think hard about. If the tags are cheap, and the animals pick them up easily, so I can deploy a considerable amount of them, the decision would be much easier. But if the animal is rare and elusive, each data point would be valuable, so not being able to retrieve a tag, or a tag getting detached very quickly, becomes costly.

But I do ge tthe concerns of immobilizing animals, and the desire to avoid going through the stress of capture and immobilizing, being able to avoid that is very valuable too.

Lars Holst Hansen
Aarhus University
Biologist and Research Technician working with ecosystem monitoring and research at Zackenberg Research Station in Greenland
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Have you seen these regarding a polar tracker using a "burr" attachment teqnique ?