U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 72(5):1241–1246; 2008.


We designed and developed a vehicle-mounted very high frequency–based telemetry system that integrated an on-board antenna, receiver, electronic compass, Global Positioning System, computer, and Geographic Information System. The system allows users to accurately and quickly obtain fixes, estimate and confirm locations of radio-marked animals, and immediately record data into an electronic spreadsheet or database. The total cost of materials to build the system was $7,349 (United States currency). Mean error angle of 2.63 ± 12.1° (SD; range =-33.7–42.2°) and mean location error distance of 128 ± 91.3 m (SD; range = 0–408 m) suggested precision and accuracy of our system were comparable to other reported systems. Mean time to record 5 bearings/test transmitter was 6.28 ± 0.24 minutes (SE), which is the most efficient system reported to locate animals in the field. Vehicle-mounted telemetry systems like ours provide additional value to studies that involve tracking highly mobile species because investigators need not take bearings from established receiving stations and because investigators can immediately recognize bounced signals and take additional bearings and optimize accuracy of location estimates.