Low-flying aircraft to count deer in eastern Colorado

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Colorado Hunter magazine

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife are employing the use of aircraft in two separate operations to help monitor the deer population in the eastern part of Colorado.

Agency biologists started utilizing low-flying helicopters this past Saturday, Dec. 15, to assist in surveying deer herds in southeastern Colorado, the agency announced in a news release.

"We will primarily be flying in the Arkansas River Valley in Prowers, Bent, Otero and Crowley Counties," terrestrial biologist Jonathan Reitz said in the release. "But we will also be flying low over portions of Kiowa and Baca Counties as well."

Depending on weather, the operation in southeastern Colorado is expected to continue until the end of the year.

The agency also was expected today, Dec. 17, to start a similar operation in northeastern Colorado, CPW announced in a separate release.

"We will primarily be flying west of Loveland to the Continental Divide, down to I-70, east of Denver to out to Limon and along the South Platte River up to Nebraska," senior terrestrial biologist Janet George said in that release.

The northeastern operation is expected to last until the end of January 2013, depending on conditions.

The operations are part of an on-going effort to monitor Colorado’s deer population. Understanding the ratio of bucks to does and fawns to does helps biologists estimate composition of the herd, which is used to estimate herd size, according to both releases.

Using this data, wildlife biologists make decisions about the number of hunting licenses to issue in coming seasons.

"The reason we count in December is because most bucks still have their antlers. That helps us differentiate bucks from does and fawns," said Reitz in the release regarding the operation in southeastern Colorado. "We’re hoping we get some snow before the surveys because it makes it easier to spot deer from the air."

For more information, go to http://cpw.state.co.us.

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