Skip to Content

Mule deer trapping helps officials assess winter survival

Moving a collared mule deer away from the capture nets before releasing in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region, January 2022
Terry Thompson:Idaho Fish and Game
Moving a collared mule deer away from the capture nets before releasing in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region, January 2022

MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho (KIFI) - Fish and Game biologists with the Magic Valley Region are spending time this winter collaring mule deer does and fawns to assess survival over the coming winter months.

Biologists need the data supplied by the GPS collars to make informed recommendations to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission who set upcoming hunting seasons.

SCO Austin Dupois, Gooding patrol area, works to control a mule deer during a drive net capture in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region January 2022

After capture, the deer have a blindfold placed over their eyes to calm them while data is collected

Using statistical models, biologists will analyze the data collected from the GPS collars to estimate how many animals survived the winter. 

A mule deer after capture with a new GPS collar and two ear tags Shirley Creek drainage Magic Valley Region January 2022

A GPS collar and ear tags are placed on all deer captured during the capture project

Mule deer trapping operations involve a helicopter to drive deer into a capture net where data is collected to monitor seasonal movements, body condition and ultimately long-term survival. Once in the nets the deer can be quickly processed by placing a collar around their necks, ear tags put into both ears, measure leg length to determine growth rates and weight.

Helicopter driving mule deer into a capture net in the Shirley Creek drainage Magic Valley Region January 2022

A helicopter brings mule deer into the capture nets

Does may have blood drawn to determine pregnancy, and if time allows, an ultrasound might be conducted on the animal’s hind quarters to determine fat thickness which correlates to its overall health level.

Magic Valley Region staff and volunteers weigh a mule deer during a drive net capture project in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region January 2022

All mule deer are weighed before release as a measure of their health condition

Trapping is typically done in the winter when big game animals are congregated on lower elevation winter ranges.

Mule deer fawn driven towards a capture net in the Shirley Creek drainage in the Magic Valley Region January 2022

A mule deer fawn prior to capture in large nets

GPS collar data helps biologists form recommendations in years when the winter survival is low and hunting seasons may need to be adjusted to reduce the impact on populations in the fall. Likewise, if winter survival is high, these same biologists may recommend to the Fish and Game Commission that they provide more hunting opportunity due to more animals on the landscape.


Mule deer about the hit the capture net in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region January 2022
A mule deer doe hits the capture net in the Shirley Creek drainage Magic Valley Region January 2022
Moving a collared mule deer away from the capture nets before releasing in the Shirley Creek drainage, Magic Valley Region, January 2022
Mule deer doe headed out after having a GPS collar placed around its neck in the Shirley Creek drainage Magic Valley Region January 2022

Article Topic Follows: Idaho
Author Profile Photo

News Team

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content