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Moose Surveys Using

GPS Technology

Paul W Saunders 
Senior Wildlife Biologist (Big Game) 
Dept. Environment and Conservation 
Wildlife Division 
P.O. Box 2007 
Corner Brook, NL 
A2h 7S1 
Phone: (709) 637‐2015 
Fax: (709) 637‐2036 

In the past, moose surveys have been conducted through visual navigation with the aid of
paper maps. The downside of this method was the time involved finding survey blocks
and delineation of block boundaries during counting procedures. In attempt to increase
efficiencies in the process and to standardize the implementation of moose surveys
existing gps technology was used for two surveys conducted in 2004. The new method
involved the creation of maps using existing gps software, in this case Touratech 2.5 and
the ability to use realtime gps location in the field. The following document will provide
a step by step guide to creating maps using Touratech and the use of these maps and gps
technology to guide activities in the field.

Figure 1 Touratech 2.5 Software Shown in Map Display Mode

Figure 2 Touratech 2.5 Shown in Data Display Mode

It will be assumed that individuals using this guide have obtained a copy of the software
and have a working knowledge of its operation. In addition, users will need a gps which
has a data port for the input and output of data. A data cable will also be required for
connection to either a laptop or notebook pc. Another requirement is a gps which has the
capability to store at least 500 waypoints and a minimum of 10000 track points. The
memory capabilities of current gps units are only adequate on higher end models and
purchases should be limited to units that allow the ability to add extra memory cards.

This document will not cover the sampling process used for selecting blocks to be
surveyed and will assume that a random set of blocks have been selected and identified
on a reference map beforehand. The remainder of this document will show how to create
waypoints for one corner of selected blocks, how to create a visual boundary of selected
blocks by using the drawing tool and how to use GPS Online to navigate to blocks in the
field and monitor coverage during the survey.

As can be seen in both Figure 1 and Figure 2, Touratech can be operated in on of two
display modes. Switching between display modes will be required throughout both the
office and field exercises required to complete a moose survey. It is also assumed at this
point that the random selection of survey blocks as been completed for the moose
management area (MMA) to be surveyed and all blocks have been marked on a paper
master map for reference.

The first step in the process is to create a database for the storage of information
pertaining to the MMA to be surveyed. In this manual we will be using MMA 13. To
begin open Touratech and place the program in data view (figure 1). Right click on the
top level directory called QV Data and a drop down screen will appear (figure 3). Select
new database from the drop down screen.

Figure 3 Creating a New Database

A new database will appear in the directory listing on the left hand side of the screen.
You can now rename the database MMA13 by right clicking on the new database and
then clicking on rename found on the drop down screen (figure 4).

Figure 4 Renaming the New Database

Double click on the new MMA13 database to expand the listing of subdirectories (Figure
5). These subdirectories will be used to store waypoints, survey block drawings and track
point data. All subdirectories will be listed in the center of the screen along with the
number of objects contained under each heading.

To facilitate the use of Touratech in conducting our survey we will start by entering
waypoints that mark the top left hand corner (standard for all surveys) of all blocks that
have been selected for the survey. To allow for the entering of way points we have to
switch to map display mode, and in this case will display the Dawes Pond map which
covers a section of MMA 13.

Figure 5 MMA13 Subdirectories

First insert the cd contain your maps into the appropriate drive. While in data display
mode select the Dawes Pond map (figure 6). Double click on the listing for Dawes Pond.
You can then click on the X (x-plorer button, figure 7) to switch to map display mode.
Your screen should now look something like figure 8.

Figure 6 Loading the Dawes Pond Map

Figure 7 X-plorer Button Used to Switch Between Modes

Figure 8 Dawes Pond Map in Display Mode

With the Dawes Pond Map displayed we are now ready to record waypoints to be use
during navigation and for transfer to gps units. First we must select the waypoints
subdirectory from the top toolbar (Figure 9). We are now ready to record waypoints for
the top left hand corner of all blocks to be surveyed

Figure 9 Selecting the Waypoints Subdirectory

Refer to the paper master map created during the survey block selection process and
identify one of the survey blocks. Now refer to the map displayed in Touratech and place
the cursor over the point to be marked as a waypoint. Click once and the point will be
marked by a circle (figure 10). Double click and the display mode switches to data
allowing you to enter information about the waypoint (Figure 11).

Figure 10 Waypoint Location for Moose Survey Block

Figure 11 Data Display Mode for Waypoint Information Entry

Due to the fact that multiple users maybe utilizing this information waypoints should be
named by listing the MMA then the block number. For example the waypoint just
created would be renamed mma13b757 (figure 12). Continue the above process until the
waypoints for all survey blocks have been recorded.

Figure 12 Renaming Waypoints

To provide a reference for the person assigned as navigator on the survey crew we will
now mark all survey blocks by drawing a box around the perimeter. We must again
display the Dawes Pond map. Once this is done the drawings subdirectory must be
selected from the toolbar at the top (figure 13)

Figure 13 Selecting the Drawings Subdirectory

We are now ready to create drawings that will provide a better reference during online
gps navigation and allow for the consistent coverage of survey blocks. The Draw in Map
button must be selected from the top toolbar to begin the drawing exercise (figure 14).

Figure 14 Selecting the Draw in Map Button

Once the draw in map button has been selected a vertical toolbar will appear on the right
hand side of the screen (figure 15).

Figure 15 Touratech Map Display Mode with Drawing Toolbar

To begin drawing we must first select the rectangle drawing tool from the drawing
toolbar (figure 16).

Figure 16 Selection the Rectangle Tool

You will note that all the waypoints marking the left hand corners of the survey blocks
should be visible (if not display them in the map) and will be used as a stating point for
the drawing of all block boundaries. With the rectangle tool selected place the cursor on
the waypoint marking the corner of the survey block. Line up the cursor with the corner
of the block and click once. Drag the cursor down and to the right, while holding down
the left mouse button, until the boundaries of the block have been highlighted (figure 17).
Once complete release the mouse button (figure 18).

Figure 17 Creating Survey Block Boundaries

Figure 18 Completed Block Boundary Drawing

The drawing must now be renamed for future reference and this can be complete by
double clicking the new rectangles name in the map display. The data display will now
appear and right clicking on the current rectangle will allow you to select rename from
the drop down list (figure 19).

Figure 19 Renaming Drawings

Drawings should be reamed in a similar sequence to waypoints except replacing the b
(for block) with r (for rectangle). The new name would then be mma13r757. We now
have the basic information to allow for the use of a gps and laptop computer in
conducting a moose survey.

Real Time Tracking with a GPS and Mobile Computer

In preparation for survey work involving the use of real time gps tracking the neccary
equipment must first be assembled. The following is a list of equipment needed for field

1. Mobile computer – graphics card must be adequate for visual display
2. GPS – should meet specifications stated earlier. Map display required in case of
computer failure
3. Mobile power source – for the mobile computer, improves visual quality of the
screen display as compared to operation on battery power. The must reliable
source of power would be a 12 volt dc outlet available in the helicopter being
used. Failing this eliminator mobile power supplies from Canadian Tire has been
used with great success. For use of 12 volt power with the mobile computer a
power inverter will be needed. These can be obtained from Canadian tire in 75 -
400 w sizes.
4. GPS cables – for connection between mobile computer and gps unit.

To prepare for the use of the above equipment under actual survey conditions it is
advised that personnel become familiar with the operation and assembly of all the
computer and gps components. All equipment should be set up for easy access in the
vehicle you will be driving. It may be better to get someone to assist in driving.

To begin load up the map for the area you will be doing your practice run in. In this case
we have displayed the map of Corner Brook (figure 20).

Figure 20 Map of Corner Brook Area

Once the gps has been connected to the mobile computer it must be turned on. Allow the
gps to go through the initialization sequences. When completed click on GPS on the top
toolbar then click on GPS Online (figure 21)

Figure 21 Starting GPS Online and Realtime Navigation

A pointer should now appear in the center of the map showing your current location
(figure 22).

Figure 22 GPS Online is Now Active as Indicted by the Pointer.

You are now ready to track your movements as you drive. A line will appear on the map
as you drive and the pointer will be orientated in the direction of travel (figure 23 and

Figure 23 GPS Online During Actual Operation

Figure 24 GPS Online During Actual Operation.

All track information is being logged by Touratech during your driving or flying
activities. The tracklogs can be found under the directory GPS Online Logs, subdirectory
Tracklogs, then in a file that list the date for the day of recording (figure 25).

Figure 25 Location of GPS Online Files

One of the great features of Touratech is the automatic switching of maps during GPS
Online operations. As can be seen in figures 26 and 27 touratech will automatically load
the adjacent map when the boundary of the current map is reached. The screen will flash
several times to indicate a map change is about to occur.

Figure 26 Map Switching While in GPS Online

Figure 27 Map Switching While in GPS Online

The use of this technology during the survey of MMA 40 on the Northern Peninsula has
shown its adaptability to field operations that require the coverage of large areas with the
need for precise counts along survey block boundaries. As can be seen in figures 28 and
29, the locating of survey blocks and the precise coverage of those block are greatly
enhanced by the technology.

Figure 28 Survey Blocks MMA 40

Figure 29 Survey Blocks Completed Using Touratech

Upon completion of the survey of MMA 40 and a second area in central Newfoundland
the following conclusions were reached regarding the use of mobile computers and GPS

1. The time to complete a survey could be reduced by as much as 20%.
2. The time needed to locate the next survey block was greatly reduced.
3. Confusion about the location of block boundaries was eliminated reducing the
time required to complete blocks.
4. Decision as to whether a moose were inside or outside the block could be reached
with greater accuracy.
5. As the potential to eliminate biases introduced by the difference in the navigating
skills of survey crew members.
6. Eliminates the counting of moose outside boundaries in areas flown because of
navigation difficulties.
7. Allows for the realtime assessment of areas missed during the survey.