Radio tracking in wildlife research
1.0 Radio tracking
Radio tracking transmitters should only be used by individuals with extensive expertise and in exceptional circumstances. The relative high cost precludes their use except when other methods are totally unsuitable for rare, endangered or vulnerable species. Full justification and a detailed description of the methods, equipment, monitoring and impact on the animals will be required by the AEC.
Use alternative methods wherever possible.
The methods used, including weight and attachment should be one that has been previously used on the same or similar species and has been proved to be satisfactory.
Total package weight (collar, transmitter, battery, aerial and bonding material) should ideally be less than 5% of the animal's bodyweight and no greater than 10%, American Society of Mammologists recommend less than 10%, for terrestrial mammals and less than 5% for bats weighing less than 70 g, 1 p.13.
Harnesses should only be used where the shape of the animal's head/neck means that a collar can be removed by the animal.
Surgical grade 'super glue' should be used instead of a collar or harness in smaller species, and in platypus or other aquatic animals to attach the transmitter directly to the animals' fur, scales or feathers and to ensure that attachment is temporary only.
Whip antennae should be incorporated into the collar wherever possible. Where freely attached, antennae should cause minimum disruption to the movement of the animal and the animal should be closely tracked for the first 24 hours.
All reasonable attempts should be made to remove any attachments immediately if they are found to be causing distress to the animal, (unless the removal procedure is deemed to cause more stress to the animal).
Transmitters should be removed from all animals at the end of the survey, unless otherwise approved by the AEC.
Collars or harnesses should not be used in species where they would interfere with locomotion e.g., aquatic, burrowing animals.
In areas where ticks occur, care should be taken in using collars as they may prevent the animal from grooming normally and removing the tick, alternatives to collars should be used. Any problems which are encountered should be reported to the AEC.
Sites for attachment
- intra-abdominally for frogs, using a micro transmitter
bats - mid dorsally using surgical glue 1
- alternatives to radio transmitters include 1
- low level radioactive tags e.g., for burrowing animals (these must be removed) LEDs
- chemical light tags
1. The American Society of Mammologists (1987) Acceptable Field Methods of Mammalogy, Preliminary guidelines prepared by the American Society of Mammalogists Journal of Mammalogy Supp. Vol 68, No. 4. November p.13.
Animal Research Review Panel Guideline 9