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Never before in history have wildlife biologists had so much choice in terms of tracking equipment.

If you were a wildlife biologist in the late 1960s or early 1970s you very well may have been building your own VHF transmitters.  And that means ordering the parts, soldering the parts together and “potting” everything in dental acrylic to try to make it waterproof.  You could be working with a bird or a mammal as small as a squirrel or maybe a large mammal.  Your VHF receiver would be massive and the battery a monster.  You would have to haul that receiver around in the hinterland trying to get one position on one animal at a time.  You wouldn’t have very many people to ask for advice, you would be a pioneer in the field and the data you accumulate, while possibly leading you to the wrong conclusion, would be fresh and exciting.  Later in the 1970s telemetry companies started popping up and quality slowly got better and better.  But you would still be using VHF, GPS didn’t come along in wildlife until the 1980s and then it was back to square one as far as size was concerned, GPS collars were very big and they cost over $7000 CDN back in the ‘80s.  The prices have come down a lot.

Why am I telling you this?  I’m telling you not to give you a history lesson but rather I’m trying to give you a little perspective about wildlife research tracking products and the effort one needs to expend to obtain data from them.  While you may consider the current state of the technology frustrating and difficult as well as complicated and time consuming to use keep in mind where it all began and how far it has come.   I contend that today a great number of researchers are buying and using wildlife tracking products that are not the best choices for what they are doing but that the supply (manufacturers of such equipment) has increased so dramatically that end users are not actually considering all of their options before deciding on a product and placing an order.


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