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Wildlife Branch


Big Game Monitoring

Aerial Inventories

These inventories, commonly called surveys, are used to measure the overall status of a big game herd and includes estimating animal abundance, sex and age composition, recruitment and geographical distribution.

Every year, wildlife managers must determine which populations are to be surveyed by aircraft. The decision to survey a specific area is based upon the following ranking factors:

  • population indicators (licensed kill data, Treaty harvest estimates, disease, field staff reports) that display change in numbers (positively or negatively)
  • public interest (various client or special interest groups)
  • population subject to high use
  • provide baseline or update data for appropriate management strategies
  • environmental change (forest operations, fire, hydro development, new access)
  • co-management initiatives
  • impact to commercial enterprises
  • area was closed to hunting and needs to be evaluated prior to re-opening
  • presence of long term database

Aerial surveys are typically flown in January and depend on snow cover in the survey area. A minimum snow base depth of 25 cm is required in the pre-selected area. An area is first stratified by fixed-wing aircraft to determine animal densities and then random sample units are intensively searched by helicopter.