More Hunt Units Added to the Big Game Study

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An unprecedented effort to capture, collar and monitor hundreds of mule deer and elk across Idaho just got a bit more ambitious, with the addition of two more study units.

The Garden Valley/Lowman area will be the focus of additional capture and collaring efforts, with operations beginning within the next few days. "We have a window of opportunity where equipment and manpower are both available," Fish and Game wildlife manager Jon Rachael noted. "Our goal is to capture and collar 30 adult female mule deer and 30 adult female elk in units 33 and 35 in the coming weeks."

The capture effort will include corral traps and helicopters pushing animals into drive nets. "I wish we had more snow on the ground that would help concentrate the animals in a smaller area," Rachael said. "But we'll manage as best we can."

Once captured, female deer and elk will be outfitted with radio collars and released. "We'll follow up the capture process with an intensive monitoring effort," Rachael said. "We'll be tracking the movement of animals, mortality rates and predator impacts on the collared animals."

The ambitious effort now includes 16 hunt units scattered across the state. In southwest Idaho, deer and elk from units 32, 32A and 39 are scheduled to be included in the capture and monitoring effort, in addition to those from units 33 and 35.