Scientists from Colorado have begun using GPS tracking devices to collect data on wild animals. Attaching the GPS device to the collars, scientists get a better understanding of the migration habits of mountain lions, lynx, wolves and other animals. The Colorado Division of Wildlife began using GPS devices about five years ago.
The GPS tracking was initiated by the Wildlife organization as a way to manage and protect animals. The organization uses the GPS data obtained to find the common routes traveled by animals. Jodi Hilty, director of the wildlife Conversation Society's programs in North America, explains, "We're going to see more [human] development" so tracking animal migration with GPS devices helps "make sure we don't accidentally cut off [animals'] routes." After all, many wildlife deaths have been related to human involvement, whether getting hit by vehicles or getting captured by animal control.
Unlike previous tracking systems, the GPS-enabled collars allow scientists to track wildlife across the country and in densely-packed areas. By using GPS units, scientists have received more accurate and consistent data. Additionally, they have learned that many animals wander to Canada from the United States. With GPS, scientists can follow the animals outside of the country while previous tracking systems would lose track of the animals.