Lack Of Snow Impacts Big Game Surveys


By Brittany Cooper

Jerome, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) The winter so far is a mixed bag for the Idaho Fish and Game. First, Fish and Game officials are pleased over the condition of the deer this season. But the lack of snow has hampered efforts in collecting big game data.

The Rock Creek General Store in Hansen might be considered to be the hub for traffic headed in and out of the South Hills. For contractor Brian Oswalt, he's found that spotting a solid herd of deer is challenging.

Oswalt says, "it's been kind of slow and spotty here and there, we get a few groups in people's pastures and stop but not real numbers in one location. The weather hasn't been cooperating really well to bring them all together."

Mild conditions have made it nearly impossible to conduct aerial surveys in the South Hills and the Bannock region.

"Surveys are very expensive and very time consuming. The way the deer scattered, it just didn't make sense. In the northern part of the state with the recent snows we've had, I know a couple of regions are thinking about doing some elk surveys still maybe, it just depends again on the conditions. To do a good survey, you got to have kind of deer in the typical area you would expect in a normal winter," explains Jerome Hansen, Magic Valley Regional Supervisor, Idaho Fish and Game.

As a result, the Fish and Game has conducted more ground surveys for mule deer. The surveys reveal an idea of the fawn doe ratio, giving the department a better idea of production.

Hansen says, "we're moving toward models for all of our mule deer population estimates where the fawn doe ratio is really important as is winter survival. That kind of thing so there's some things so there's some things we can gather about how the population is doing."

For both Oswalt and Hansen, more snow would be welcomed.

Fortunately, forecasts show another system could arrive as soon as mid–week.

Normally the snowpack level in the South Hills is more than 80%.
Currently it's at 17%, according to Oswalt.

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