Over the next week Fish and Game biologists from the Magic Valley Region will be conducting capture operations of mule deer and pronghorn from a low-flying helicopter. Both deer and pronghorn will be captured using net guns deployed by a gunner in the helicopter. Once captured, the animals will be fitted with GPS radio collars that will allow biologists to track migration patterns, habitat use and survival over the coming months. Data collected from the GPS collars will allow Fish and Game to provide technical assistance to agencies and businesses that need this information to make informed land-use decisions.
Capture operations will occur almost exclusively on public land with very limited operations on private property with landowner permission. The areas of capture will occur north of the interstate in the Hunt, Eden and Hazelton areas, north towards Shoshone and Dietrich, and west towards Gooding and Bliss.
The goal is to collar 40 mule deer and 35 adult pronghorn over the next week.
When actively pursuing wildlife from the helicopter chase times are limited to three minutes, although are generally less than one minute. Once captured, it takes approximately 10 minutes to collar and take physical information from each animal. Capture operations are one-time events designed to cause minimal stress on wildlife on winter range. Biologists attempt to avoid repeatedly stressing wildlife while conducting captures on winter range since the cumulative impacts of multiple disturbances can result in increased mortality.
Big game capture projects have been ongoing across Idaho for many years, but this project is one of the first collaring projects to occur in this area which will provide valuable baseline information about both mule deer and pronghorn within the Magic Valley.
For more information about big game capture contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.