MONONA , Wis. – Department of Natural Resources wildlife researchers are planning to conduct aerial deer counts in the chronic wasting disease (CWD) Eradication and Management Zones as soon as the weather cooperates.

“We need five or six inches of snow on the ground to cover logs and stumps so deer are clearly visible on the landscape,” noted DNR population ecologist Robert Rolley, Monona.

The state agency will use both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to determine the number of deer in the 411-square-mile Eradication Zone and the larger Management Zone, which encompasses all or parts of 11 counties and 15 deer management units in south central Wisconsin.

DNR has no plans at this time to use aircraft for driving or shooting deer, emphasized agency biologists. The Department frequently uses aircraft for wildlife population surveys, such as counting bald eagles and trumpeter swan nests. Pilots generally fly high enough to avoid spooking the animals since that only makes counting more difficult when the deer are moving about.

Mr. Rolley said that the DNR will alert the public via the news media when a date has been set for the aerial survey.

“In order for this technique to be effective and accurate, the spotters in the aircraft need a white background to accurately count deer on the ground,” said Mr. Rolley. “Like a lot of folks in southern Wisconsin, we are hoping for a substantial snowfall so we can proceed with this important work.”