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Southwest Chukar Count Up

Chukar hunters can expect another excellent season in southwest Idaho. Chukar, gray partridge and quail seasons begin September 16. Aerial surveys around Brownlee and Lucky Peak Reservoirs showed a 23 percent increase over the 10-year average and 11 percent more than last year at Brownlee, 24 percent over the average and 20 percent better than 1998 (no count in 1999) at Lucky Peak. The Brownlee flight showed 1,488 chukar observed in a 12-square-mile survey area with 104 groups and 124 birds per square mile. Birds per flock were up one over last year. On the 10-square-mile Lucky Peak survey area, the flight showed 241 chukar, 21 groups, and 24 birds per square mile. There was no helicopter count on the lower Bruneau River again this year; that annual count was dropped for fiscal reasons. Chukar were surveyed on the Salmon and Snake Rivers in the Clearwater Region but biologists suspect the figures do not reflect a useful comparison to other years. The flight could not be made during the traditional late August period because wildfire smoke precluded flying and all helicopters were being used on the fires in the region at that time. When the flights were finally made around Labor Day, rains had likely allowed chukar to move away from the rivers where they are counted during dry conditions. The counts were down considerably from last year on the survey areas along both rivers but biologists were convinced birds had moved back to higher elevations where they cannot be easily counted.