Sara Hansen, Wildlife Program, (509) 892-1001 ext. 310
Staci Lehman, Public Affairs, (509) 710-4511
SPOKANE- Starting in early January, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will conduct mule deer captures from helicopters in three study areas along the east slope of the Cascades in Okanogan, Chelan, and Kittitas counties.
The Department will use contracted professional crews to capture approximately 50 adult female mule deer in each area. Humane methods and experienced crews are used to make the captures as safe as possible for both deer and humans.
The deer will be fitted with GPS/satellite collars so wildlife managers can track them to evaluate movement and migration patterns and learn more about habitat use of the populations. Each animal will be collared and released at the site where they are captured. The collars are programmed to remain on the deer for four years before dropping off.
The studies in Chelan and Kittitas counties are funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They are part of a major collaboration between the U.S. Department of the Interior and WDFW. Captures and collaring in Okanogan County are part of an ongoing collaboration between WDFW and the University of Washington called the Washington Predator-Prey Project that is studying interactions between mule deer and large carnivores in the Methow watershed.
"The information gained from these studies will be used to assess the movements of each population and help prioritize habitat conservation and management efforts in eastern Washington," said Sara Hansen, WDFW Deer Specialist.
Mule deer have lost winter habitat in recent years along the lower elevations of the east slope of the Cascades due to human development. This could impact mule deer populations in the long term.
Captures are scheduled to begin in Okanogan County the first week of January and continue south as work is completed in each study area.
Mule deer are broadly distributed in Washington from the crest of the Cascade Mountains east to the Idaho border, providing hunting and viewing opportunities for thousands of people each year.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.