Mule Deer Population Counts

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A low flying helicopter buzzing around the sagebrush flats near King Hill and in the South Hills will be a common sight for the next few weeks as Fish and Game biologist work on mule deer population counts for the region.

This is the second count of the winter for many areas this year. The first count in December was a composition count. Biologists try to determine the buck to doe ratio and the fawn to doe ratio.

Flights the next two weeks will help them estimate the over-all-number of deer in different units in the region.

"We have been doing this for the past 15 years," said Bruce Palmer, Fish and Game big game population biologist. "We fly certain areas every year and this helps us figure-out the population trend. We can determine whether herds are growing, staying the same or getting smaller."

Biologists recently completed an elk composition count in the Pioneer Mountains (in Unit 49) near the Little Wood River. After two days of flying, they counted 796 elk - 172 were bulls with 460 cows and 160 calves.

"With the information we gathered from the aerial counts and the harvest reports we can then adjust the hunting permit levels for that area," Palmer said. "With roughly 35 calves per hundred cows, we know the herds are increasing. With 37 bulls per hundred cows we know the herd composition is good and were hitting our goals."