Elk NetworkGame Cameras Help Idaho Manage Wildlife

General | February 13, 2019

Idaho Fish and Game biologists designed unique ways to survey wildlife using remote cameras.

An innovative approach using trail cameras to capture wildlife will allow Idaho Fish and Game biologists to estimate deer and elk populations in a safer, less-invasive, and less-expensive way than the traditional method of biologists flying in aircraft and counting them.

“It is a big deal,” said Mark Hurley, Fish and Game’s wildlife research manager. “This is quite a breakthrough to discover some of these different techniques for estimating populations.”

During November, biologists deployed a network of trail cameras on winter range of mule deer in Eastern Idaho, as well as elk range in the St. Joe River and the South Fork of the Clearwater River. In each location, cameras were deployed at randomly selected GPS points across the animals’ winter range.

During December, and at least through February, the remote cameras will snap a picture any time they sense movement, much in the same way hunters use them to scout for game.

More important for Fish and Game’s population surveys, all the cameras are synchronized to take photos at exactly the same time at 10-minute intervals. Those photos will be used in statistical modeling that allows biologists to estimate populations across the entire study area with statistical confidence.

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(Photo/video source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)