Limitations of thermal infrared imaging for locating neonatal deer in semiarid shrub communities

David A. Butler, Warren B. Ballard, Shawn P. Haskell, Mark C. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Neonate capture can be an important part of ungulate research. Systematic grid searching has been the most common method, but it is time consuming and usually requires a large number of people. A variety of methods have been used by wildlife professionals to capture ungulate neonates. We used a Raytheon PalmIR 250 Digital (Raytheon Commercial Infrared, Dallas, Texas) thermal infrared camera during the coolest time of night to search for deer (Odocoileus spp.) neonates in west-central Texas, USA. Using 2 methods (stationary observation and mobile searching), we detected one fawn and captured none. Efficacy of this technology at our study site may have been limited by the lack of a forest canopy and density of shrubs and herbaceous cover on our study site. Ground cover can obscure a bedded fawn, and direct sunlight on bed site habitat can result in false signals. We suggest wildlife professionals consider vegetation parameters, ungulate density, and road quality before purchasing expensive thermal imaging equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1458-1462
Number of pages5
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Capture
  • Deer
  • Detection
  • Fawn
  • Infrared
  • Neonates
  • Odocoileus spp.
  • Texas
  • Thermal imaging


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