Press Release

Mule deer trapping conducted by Fish and Game biologists to help assess winter survival

Fish and Game biologists with the Magic Valley Region are spending time this winter collaring mule deer does and fawns to assess survival over the coming winter months. Biologists need the data supplied by the GPS collars to make informed recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission who set upcoming hunting seasons.

sco_austin_dupois_controlling_a_mule_deer_shirley_creek_jan_2022
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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

After capture, the deer have a blindfold placed over their eyes to calm them while data is collected

Using statistical models, biologists will analyze the data collected from the GPS collars to estimate how many animals survived the winter. 

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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

A GPS collar and ear tags are placed on all deer captured during the capture project

Mule deer trapping operations involve a helicopter to drive deer into a capture net where data is collected to monitor seasonal movements, body condition and ultimately long-term survival. Once in the nets the deer can be quickly processed by placing a collar around their necks, ear tags put into both ears, measure leg length to determine growth rates and weight.

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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

A helicopter brings mule deer into the capture nets

Does may have blood drawn to determine pregnancy, and if time allows, an ultrasound might be conducted on the animal’s hind quarters to determine fat thickness which correlates to its overall health level.

brandon_tycz_and_isabella_guthrie_weigh_a_mule_deer_shirley_creek_jan_2022
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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

All mule deer are weighed before release as a measure of their health condition

Trapping is typically done in the winter when big game animals are congregated on lower elevation winter ranges.

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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

A mule deer fawn prior to capture in large nets

GPS collar data helps biologists form recommendations in years when the winter survival is low and hunting seasons may need to be adjusted to reduce the impact on populations in the fall. Likewise, if winter survival is high, these same biologists may recommend to the Fish and Game Commission that they provide more hunting opportunity due to more animals on the landscape.

deer_about_the_hit_the_capture_net_with_staff_hiding_in_the_sagebrush_shirley_creek_jan_2022
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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

A mule deer doe running into a capture net with Department staff hiding in the sagebrush 

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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

The large mesh of the net coupled with the net hanging loosely ensures a safe capture of the deer

getting_the_deer_away_from_the_capture_nets_before_releasing_shirley_creek_jan_2022
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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

The capture team works to move a mule deer outside the net area prior to release

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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

A mule deer released after getting a new GPS collar and ear tags

 

sco_austin_dupois_controlling_a_mule_deer_shirley_creek_jan_2022
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Terry Thompson/Idaho Fish and Game

SCO Austin Dupois, Gooding patrol area, works to control a mule deer during a drive net capture in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region January 2022