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Idaho ends chukar survey flights that gave hunters forecast of season

Pat "Corky" Wray Jr. hunts for chukars above the Snake near Brownlee Reservoir.  (Rich Landers / The Spokesman Review)
Pat "Corky" Wray Jr. hunts for chukars above the Snake near Brownlee Reservoir. (Rich Landers / The Spokesman Review)

BIRD HUNTING -- The last good barometer Snake River region hunters have had on the hatching success of upland birds has ended. Idaho Fish and Game biologists will no longer conduct aerial chukar surveys, the agency has announced.

The agency has conducted annual chukar surveys since the mid-1980s primarily to provide a ‘forecast’ for the upcoming season. The data was not biological data used to set seasons, officials said in a press release.

Washington ended it's aerial chukar surveys in the 90s, mostly for reasons of expense.

The flights were axed after the officials scrutinized the agency's use of aerial surveys following a fatal helicopter accident last year along the Clearwater River last year that killed two fisheries biologists and the pilot. Several aerila surveys have been eliminated after a review was conducted to assess risk and cost in relation to value of biological information collected

Since 1984, Fish and Game biologists conducted helicopter surveys in late August or early September along a portion of Brownlee and Lucky Peak reservoirs to monitor chukar population trends.  The surveys laster expanded to other portions of the Snake and Salmon rivers.

The surveys offered sportsmen useful general trends in the fall population.

Without the surveys, biologists will rely more on collecting wings from harvested birds to obtain an index to production and estimate harvest from annual hunter harvest surveys.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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