Idaho Fish and Game is conducting aerial surveys of big game in the elk ecology research study area in Unit 10, the northern portion of the Lolo elk management zone, and in Unit 10A, the Dworshak zone.
The helicopter surveys are scheduled during the winter months to cover areas at the same time of the year so that information gathered is comparable from year to year. The goal is to compare population trends, and age and sex ratios. This information allows biologists to be more precise in setting seasons and permit levels which results in maximum opportunity for hunters.
Besides finding big game animals congregated on lower elevation winter ranges, winter also bring two requirements needed to conduct accurate surveys - clear weather for good visibility and snow covering that aids in locating and identification of species. A helicopter flying low and slow over some of the most remote areas of the state is the most efficient tool for gathering big game herd information.
In spite of the high costs and the danger associated with low-level flying, helicopter surveys continue to provide wildlife managers with the best information to use in managing wildlife.