WDFW to begin helicopter deer capture project

OKANOGAN COUNTY – Biologists from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will employ helicopters to capture and collar about 125 mule deer in three study areas including Okanogan County in mid-January.

A WDFW media release said the “captures and collaring in Okanogan County will inform ongoing research to improve WDFW’s current aerial mule deer population survey techniques, as well as investigate movement patterns of mule deer in the Methow watershed.”

Deer will also be captured and collared on portions of Chelan, Kittitas, and Klickitat counties, and in the Blue Mountain counties of Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield.

The department will use contracted professional crews to capture approximately 125 adult female mule deer across all areas. To make the captures as safe as possible for both deer and humans, humane capture methods and experienced crews are always used.

WDFW biologist Scott Fitkin in Winthrop said mule deer in the lower elevations of the east slope of the Cascades have suffered habitat loss due to several factors including wildfires, development, drought and other causes.

Fitkin said he will participate in the roundup working as a ground coordinator helping the aerials crews locate and capture targeted deer.

The deer will be fitted with GPS satellite tracking collars that will allow researchers to follow and evaluate movement and migration patterns and learn more about habitat use and survival of these mule deer populations.

Each animal will be collared and released at the site where they are captured. The collars are programmed to drop off the deer after four years,” the WDFW release said.




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