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Helicopter surveys of big game to begin soon near Salmon

Beginning in early January, Idaho Fish and Game staff will take to the air to get a closer look at sheep and elk numbers, including several low-level helicopter surveys planned throughout the state.

"People may see and hear low-flying helicopters in Idaho’s outdoors throughout the winter,” said Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Bret Stansberry of Salmon. “While we understand that folks are still recreating, we will do our best to temporarily avoid areas where we observe people.”

Each survey is estimated to take approximately one to four weeks in each management area. In the Salmon-Challis areas, elk surveys are planned for game management unit 36A and a bighorn sheep survey is planned in March for the Salmon River below Panther Creek.

“Disturbance to the animals is kept to the minimum needed to acquire accurate information, generally less than a few minutes,” Stansberry said.

In addition, Fish and Game biologists will also capture and collar hundreds of mule deer and elk in hunt units throughout the state. Crews will then monitor the collared animals to get a better idea of herd survival throughout winter and early spring.

This information, together with the flight survey data, will be used to determine the overall health of Idaho’s big game herds, which plays a critical role in determining future hunting seasons.