Colorado's Wildlife Gets a Close-Up from CPW's Aerial Surveys

Eyes in the Sky: Colorado’s Wildlife Gets a Close-Up from CPW’s Aerial Surveys

DENVER, COLORADO ⎯ In an ambitious endeavor to closely monitor and manage its diverse wildlife populations, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is set to launch a series of low-altitude helicopter flights across Southeast Colorado. Starting December 15, these flights will provide CPW biologists with an eagle-eye view to assess herds of deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.

Julie Stiver, a senior wildlife biologist with CPW’s Southeast Region, emphasizes the significance of these flights. “Our team will efficiently count and categorize various herds, moving swiftly from one area to another. This process is pivotal in painting an accurate picture of the state’s big game populations,” she explains.

These flights aren’t just about numbers. They are part of a broader strategy to develop comprehensive population models and management strategies. This data is instrumental in setting future hunting license numbers, ensuring a balanced approach to wildlife conservation and recreational hunting.

The southeastern plains’ flight plan is meticulously charted, starting from the South Republican River drainage and extending to the Kansas state line, covering several counties. On the western side of I-25, the focus will be on surveying and classifying wildlife in areas like South Park, the Upper Arkansas Valley, and Fishers Peak State Park.

What sets this year’s survey apart is the inclusion of extensive capture work. In the Upper Arkansas Valley, CPW staff aims to collar 60 mule deer fawns as part of a long-term survival study. Similar efforts are planned for cow and calf elk in South Park and the Upper Arkansas Valley, providing valuable insights into their survival rates and movement patterns.

Despite the potential disturbance, CPW assures that these helicopter flights are brief and minimally invasive, lasting only a few minutes in each area. This approach reflects CPW’s commitment to balancing necessary research activities with the welfare of the wildlife.

This extensive operation is expected to conclude by late January, promising to yield crucial data that will shape the future of Colorado’s cherished wildlife. For more details on CPW’s wildlife management objectives and policies regarding animal collaring, interested parties can visit CPW’s official website.

As Colorado continues to be a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists, CPW’s innovative strategies like these aerial surveys play a vital role in preserving the state’s natural heritage for generations to come.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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