California Wildlife Agencies Launch Aerial Surveys to Track Big Game Populations

The skies over California will be a bit busier in the coming months as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) embarks on its annual mission to monitor the state’s big game populations from the air. This year’s helicopter surveys, set for February and March 2024, will span across various counties including Solano, Mendocino, Siskiyou, and down to Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside, focusing on mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep.

Employing a mix of modern survey techniques, from trail cameras to fecal DNA analysis in forested terrains, CDFW adopts aerial surveys in open habitats as a swift and effective method to gather essential data. These aerial observations allow for extensive coverage over vast areas, offering a comprehensive snapshot of wildlife demographics, distributions, and trends.

The collected data feeds into statistical models, helping scientists estimate total population sizes across different hunting zones and management units. This crucial information aids wildlife managers in understanding how various factors like climate change, habitat quality, and human activities impact these populations. Moreover, the findings are instrumental in informing the California Fish and Game Commission’s decisions regarding hunting regulations, including tag quotas and season timings.

Given the adverse effects of recent severe winters on wildlife, these surveys are more critical than ever for ensuring the health and sustainability of California’s big game species. The CDFW encourages big game hunters and the public to engage in the regulatory process by attending meetings of the California Fish and Game Commission, where they can access detailed information on upcoming sessions, documents, and how to participate virtually.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California
Back to top button