DWR biologists capture, evaluate tracked deer via helicopter
Mar 7, 2018, 6:22 PM | Updated: 9:46 pm
RICH COUNTY – With blinders over their eyes, two deer, hoisted below a helicopter were gently lowered onto the ground in a field just outside Laketown Wednesday. They were just two out of about a dozen that were given quick physicals and refitted with tracking collars.
“[We] give a general health assessment to see how they’re surviving through the winter,” Division of Wildlife Services biologist, Jim Christensen explained. “We can also see migration patterns, and movement patterns, and use areas that they are using at different times of the year.”
Biologists also check fat levels of the deer to get a better idea of how they’re surviving through what are usually the coldest months of the year.
“These northern Utah deer, they usually come into the winter fatter than any deer in the state,” Christensen said. “But then they lose the fat faster than any deer in the state as well.”
Among the group of DWR employees, two volunteers with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife were offering what help they could.
Steve Sorensen said it’s a chance for him to gain a better appreciation for the animals he spends time hunting.
“We want to see them prosper and do well,” Sorensen said. “We can pinpoint areas where we need to do habitat work, and where they’re going. Places on highways we need to protect that they’re crossing.”
While the DWR tracking program for the mule deer is about four years old, Christensen said this group is getting a new type of tracker that will help them see when and where fawns are born.
“We’ll be able to go in and study the newborn fawns once they’re born, and track the survival and causes of mortality,” Christensen said. “It’s fantastic information. It gives us an idea of what habitat type those deer are actually using.”