MENDOCINO Co., 3/11/20 — You may have seen some of Mendocino County’s resident elk herds while approaching Laytonville, or while making your way around the Little Lake Valley. This week, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting helicopter surveys to assess just how many elk are in the county. The surveys will take place from March 12 through March 15, which means that you may see helicopters crisscrossing areas around the county, including over private property, over the next couple days.
The surveys were last conducted several years ago, and this effort will help establish a baseline population count, including a ratio of cows to bulls, that will help assess future elk hunting recommendations in the county, said Shawn Fresz, a CDFW wildlife program supervisor for the region. CDFW has selected particular areas to conduct the surveys, including portions of Potter Valley and Redwood Valley, and will be flying in a grid of about 2,500 feet in size to identify herds, at which point they will conduct a survey. The helicopters will be of the “larger Huey” variety, and contain several CDFW biologists, said Fresz, who will be participating in the survey effort. Fresz was unable to provide a more specific description at the time of publication, and said the helicopters would be flying somewhere between 500 and 1000 feet in elevation, primarily on public lands but also over private property.
Fresz said that currently, there is no staff biologist assigned to Mendocino County, but staff had begun outreach efforts to private landowners including previous presentation in Potter Valley, and once the position was filled there would be a more dedicated capacity to work with local residents. While he hesitated to give an estimate of whether the herds had grown since the agency’s last assessment, he said overall reports from landowners was that “they’re doing pretty good.” He said staff would know more after this round of surveying.
Here’s the announcement from CDFW:
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning to conduct helicopter surveys of elk in Mendocino County on March 12, 13, 14 and 15.
Aerial surveying is a common technique used by wildlife biologists to count deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep populations throughout the state.
Many of the elk living in Mendocino County are found on private property, which means residents, tourists and motorists passing through the area may notice low-flying helicopters surveying for elk over private property during these days.
For additional information regarding the Mendocino elk helicopter surveys, please contact Angela Moran at (707) 445-5363.CDFW press release, March 10, 2020.