Update: DCNR Deer Survey


HARRISBURG: An infrared camera-equipped plane has begun flying over 250,000 acres of state forestland to obtain better information on white-tailed deer populations, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Michael DiBerardinis announced today.

“DCNR, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and hunters all want the same thing — an accurate estimate of the number of deer living in state forest tracts and game lands,” Secretary DiBerardinis said. “The Bureau of Forestry has contracted with experts in this field to supply much-needed answers, and hopefully replace opinion and hearsay with more scientific information. By combining this data with information about the conditions of our habitat, we’ll be in a much better position to determine deer densities for specific areas.”

“As we recently have stated, we don’t know what happened this past deer season and we won’t know until March when we have all the data collected and analyzed,” said Vern Ross, PGC executive director. “Such flights will help provide a snap-shot picture in time about where deer are, based on how many can be viewed through the cover. I am pleased that Secretary DiBerardinis has offered to make this technology available to the Game Commission.”

Operating from Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, a crew and a specially equipped plane of Vision Air Research Inc., Boise, Idaho, began flying Sunday night over the first selected section of Delaware State Forest in Pike County. Flights from State College will resume tonight over Sproul State Forest, where at least 125,000 acres in Clinton and Centre counties are targeted for fly-overs. Using the latest aerial infrared sensor technology, which records heat-generated images, crews will obtain filmed evidence of deer in the forests below and interpret the results.

Targeted acreage includes the PGC’s doe and fawn mortality study areas, as well as portions of the state forestland enrolled in its Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) allowing hunters to kill additional deer.

Besides Delaware and Sproul, other state forest district areas targeted for deer counts include the Parker Dam State Park area of Moshannon, Clearfield County; Hicks Run area of Elk, Cameron and Elk counties; Denton Hill area of Susquehannock, Potter County; Paddy Mountain area of Bald Eagle, Union and Centre counties; and sections of Tuscarora, Perry County, and Tioga, Tioga County.

“These flights will tell us approximately how many deer we have in these areas, and planned forest regeneration studies will tell us what type of habitat is already there,” said Secretary DiBerardinis. “Findings in both efforts may lead to relaxed DMAP requests in some areas; more in others. Even where deer numbers are now low, over browsing inhibits new growth. When the habitat recovers, it will be able to support larger and healthier deer populations.”

Vision Air Research was founded to specialize in wildlife surveys using advance aerial infrared sensor technology (commonly called forward looking infrared – FLIR). A leader in use of FLIR for wildlife surveys, it has monitored elk, deer, bighorn sheep, moose and sage grouse since 1996. Details on the firm and its procedures can be found at: www.visionairresearch.com.

State forestland tracts included in the study can be found at www.dcnr.state.pa.us (select State Forests).

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