Jan. 9, 2013
FITCHBURG,Wis. — Department of Natural Resources biologists are conducting aerial deer counts in portions of the chronic wasting disease management zone. Agency staff will use a helicopter and airplanes to help estimate deer populations.
DNR biologists anticipate the helicopter surveys will be completed by mid-February, but everything is dependent on having several inches of snow on the ground to cover logs, rocks, and stumps so deer are clearly visible on the landscape.
Helicopter surveys are currently underway. Areas in western Dane and eastern Iowa counties and in the Baraboo area by Devil’s Lake State Park are scheduled for survey flights. About 260 individual square mile sections will be surveyed. The helicopter deer survey flights are conducted during daylight hours, flying about 100-150 feet above tree-top level at speeds of 35-40 miles per hour. A pilot and two observers are in the aircraft. If livestock are observed in the immediate survey area, the aircraft increases altitude to avoid spooking the animals.
Fixed-wing deer surveys are done at about 500 feet above ground in straight line transects oriented east-west and extend across the length of some of the CWD Deer Management Units. The crew again consists of a pilot and two observers. About 3500 linear miles will be surveyed in the current CWD management zone, and the results provide an index of relative deer abundance in each DMU.
Both helicopter and fixed-wing surveys are standard tools used by wildlife managers to estimate populations of various wildlife species, including deer, beaver, otters, ducks, eagles, ospreys, and trumpeter swans.