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Magic Valley big game population surveys in coming weeks

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-30 17:10:55-05

MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho — Over the next few weeks, Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologists are conducting big game surveys across the Magic Valley. Animals surveyed include mule deer and elk.

“Big game in the Magic Valley move or migrate to common winter ranges, so they congregate and it makes it a lot easier and more effective to gather the information we need,” said Mike McDonald, Regional Wildlife Manager for Idaho Fish and Game.

When conducting these population surveys, helicopters are used to gather data on how many animals there are, as well as to trap the animals using net guns. Once they are trapped, biologists put radio collars on them and re-release them.

Tracking the animals provides Idaho Fish and Game with important data.

“We use that information to document winter survival as well as seasonal movement,” said McDonald

Winter surveys on a big game include heard composition surveys that are done every year and abundance surveys, which are done every four to five years.

“This information is important for us because it gives us real-time information on herd productivity, heard survival, movements and abundance,” said McDonald.

Data collected from these surveys is also critical for Fish and Game to establish big game hunting seasons.