Beginning now in December (2019), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) staff will use low-flying helicopters to count deer and elk populations. Flights will take place across the state including the Upper Snake Region into March.
“These surveys provide crucial information to guide our management decisions,” says Curtis Hendricks, IDFG wildlife manager. “Flying is not without risk, but it is how we provide accurate information to hunters about the health and distribution of our big game herds.”
Care is taken minimize disturbance to the animals and prevent the expenditure of valuable energy reserves. Generally, crews gather the needed information within a few minutes or less of spotting an animal.
“There are some late-season hunts in progress during this time, and we are cognizant of that,” says Hendricks. “We will do our best to minimize the disturbance to hunters should we encounter them.”
In addition to surveys, the department will capture and collar hundreds of mule deer and elk throughout the state. Crews will then monitor the collared animals to get a better idea of herd survival through the winter and early spring.
(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)