Big Game Animals Seen Dangling from Helicopters in Utah, Officials Say ‘Don’t Be Alarmed’

by Chris Haney
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On Tuesday, Utah wildlife officials told people not to be alarmed if they see big game animals dangling in the sky attached to helicopters in an unintentionally amusing tweet.

In February, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources published an explanation for the strange sight of animals frequently flown by helicopter. In addition, it warned that the practice would begin later this year in late November.

Right on time, the DWR will start sending teams out in helicopters on Saturday as part of a wildlife survey. In fact, the DWR will bring in upwards of 1,000 big game animals over the coming months. Some of the animals weigh more than 200 pounds. Therefore, the helicopters will transport them easier and quicker than if they are moved by automobile.

The DWR’s article stated that the animals are “typically caught by a helicopter crew that uses a net gun.” Subsequently, the animals are later safely released after they are tested for any health issues. The DWR will place GPS collars on some of the animals for further monitoring.

“Capture season kicks off Nov. 28 — so don’t be alarmed if/when you see ungulates (mostly deer, pronghorn and bighorn sheep) dangling from helicopters! Animals will receive health assessments and some will get collars,” the Utah DWR tweeted.

Utah Big Game Health Assessments Further Explained

The DWR stated that the captures usually take place in November and December. However, they sometimes capture the animals in February and March as well. During these months, the animals migrate to lower elevations, which makes it easier for officials to locate and capture them.

Furthermore, the big game animals have trouble regulating their body temperature, and the colder weather helps them recover quicker. The DWR will take in numerous species for health assessments. They include deer, elk, bison, bighorn sheep and pronghorn from various areas of Utah.

The DWR explains that placing GPS collars on the animals and following them over time provides biologists with valuable information. That includes information on the animal’s life expectancy, the type of habitat they live in, and it shares their migration patterns.

“It’s interesting to follow an animal through its lifecycle. It teaches us a lot about their behavior and movements,” DWR regional wildlife manager Jim Christensen explained.

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