Aerial surveys were conducted recently by the Department of Natural Resources in the Shell Lake area to help provide an index on the number of deer within the survey area, as well as identifying areas with especially high concentrations of deer.

The survey focused on the areas near Shell Lake where a sick deer was discovered in November 2011. It was tested and found to be positive for chronic wasting ting disease (CWD).

The surveys covered an area of 36 square miles. Transects were flown a quarter-mile apart, totaling 144 linear miles surveyed. Two DNR observers and a pilot with extensive aerial survey experience conducted the survey.

An average of 465 deer was observed recently during two, fix-wing aerial surveys. DNR wildlife biologists were able to identify multiple areas containing high concentrations of deer. Several of these concentrations are within 1 mile of the site where the initial CWD positive deer was detected. One illegal feeding site was also detected.

While an important tool for surveying wildlife populations, including deer, researchers said only 50- to 60-percent of deer present are typically seen during aerial observations. The ability to see deer from the air is effected by aircraft speed, topography and forest density.

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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