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Researchers typically collect azimuths from known locations to estimate locations of radiomarked animals. Mobile, vehicle-mounted telemetry receiving systems frequently are used to gather azimuth data. Use of mobile systems typically involves estimating the vehicle's orientation to grid north (vehicle azimuth), recording an azimuth to the transmitter relative to the vehicle azimuth from a fixed rosette around the antenna mast (relative azimuth), and subsequently calculating an azimuth to the transmitter (animal azimuth). We incorporated electronic compasses into standard null-peak antenna systems by mounting the compass sensors atop the antenna masts and evaluated the precision of this configuration. This system increased efficiency by eliminating vehicle orientation and calculations to determine animal azimuths and produced estimates of precision (azimuth SD=2.6 deg., SE=0.16 deg.) similar to systems that required orienting the mobile system to grid north. Using an electronic compass increased efficiency without sacrificing precision and should produce more accurate estimates of locations when marked animals are moving or when vehicle orientation is problematic.
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Using an electronic compass to determine telemetry azimuths