Press Release

F&G to begin helicopter surveys for big game animals in the Upper Snake Region

Winter surveys help biologists understand the composition and health of deer and elk herds

Bell helicopter survey
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James Brower Idaho Fish and Game

Beginning in mid-January, Idaho Fish and Game staff will use low-flying helicopters to count deer and elk populations in Unit 50 of the Pioneer Zone. Disturbance to the animals is kept to the minimum needed to acquire accurate information and is generally less than a few minutes. Survey flights for the Upper Snake are expected to be completed by January 25 if weather permits.

“These surveys provide crucial information to guide our management decisions,” says Curtis Hendricks, Wildlife Manager in the Upper Snake Region. “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.”

Upper Snake elk 2018 helicopter survey
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James Brower Idaho Fish and Game

Care is taken minimize disturbance to the animals and prevent the expenditure of valuable energy reserves. Generally, the information being collected can be gathered within a few minutes or less of an animal being spotted.

doe and fawn mule deer deep in snow
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“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.

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Wildlife Archive Idaho Fish and Game

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