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Integrity and retention of ear-tag radiotransmitters in domestic cattle and feral horses

Authors

  • Bryan M. Kluever,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Utah State University, College of Natural Resources, Wildland Resources Department, 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-5200, USA.
    • School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
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  • Laura Lagos,

    1. Institute of Food Research and Analysis, University of Santiago de Compostela, Constantino Candeira s/n., 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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  • Stewart W. Breck,

    1. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
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  • Larry D. Howery,

    1. School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
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  • Manuel L. Sanmartín,

    1. Institute of Food Research and Analysis, University of Santiago de Compostela, Constantino Candeira s/n., 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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  • David L. Bergman,

    1. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, 8836 N 23rd Avenue, Suite 2, Phoenix, AZ 85021, USA
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  • Felipe Bárcena

    1. Institute of Food Research and Analysis, University of Santiago de Compostela, Constantino Candeira s/n., 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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  • Associate Editor: Peterson

Abstract

Radiotelemetry is an important tool for wildlife management and research, but in some cases attachment of neck collars can be problematic. An alternative in large mammals is to attach transmitters to the ear, though little is published about ear-tag radiotransmitter integrity (i.e., how long a transmitter emits a useful signal) and retention (i.e., how long a transmitter remains attached to an animal). Here we report ear-tag transmitter integrity and retention from 2 studies monitoring free-ranging calves (Bos taurus) in eastern Arizona, USA, and feral horse (Equus ferus) foals in northwestern Spain. Transmitter integrity and retention was lower for transmitters attached to foals then calves. The primary cause for reduced integrity was antennas breaking off, whereas the primary retention problem involved transmitters ripping out of the ear. When data were pooled across study sites, mean integrity and retention loss was 111 days and 180 days, respectively. Transmitters attached to the interior of the outer ears had retention rates >2 times higher than transmitters attached to the exterior of the outer ear (88% vs. 43%). We recommend that researchers intending to utilize ear-tag transmitters for studies on large domestic or wild animals attach transmitters to the interior of the outer ear, reinforce transmitter antennas in order to improve integrity, and report integrity and retention rates. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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