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Idaho Fish and Game

Bell helicopter survey

Helicopter flights beginning statewide for F&G's big game surveys


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


Beginning in December, Idaho Fish and Game staff will use low-flying helicopters to count deer and elk populations. Flights are scheduled across the state including the Upper Snake Region into March.

“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.”


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.


“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.