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New Pine Ridge Mule Deer Survey Improves Population Data

LINCOLN – Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees used a bird’s-eye view of the rugged high country of the Pine Ridge last month to obtain more accurate deer population data for northwestern Nebraska.

During five days in early February, Game and Parks staff members boarded a contracted helicopter and surveyed eight areas of the Pine Ridge Management Unit, which encompasses 429 square miles. The project marked first time Game and Parks has used a helicopter to survey mule deer. In all, staff members counted 862 mule deer – 68 bucks, 477 does and 317 fawns.

Todd Nordeen, northwestern district wildlife manager, said the survey’s findings will be valuable in setting hunting regulations and other management strategies for mule deer, a species that biologists suspect to be struggling in some areas because of disease and other challenges.

The aerial survey is expected to take place annually for at least five years, providing the agency with accurate population counts and helping identify growths or declines in herds.

In addition to mule deer, the 11 staff members counted 659 white-tailed deer, 96 elk and 11 bighorn sheep during the flights.

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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