Winter is an ideal time for wildlife biologists to capture animals and when it comes to wildlife management there are times when a biologist needs to get their hands on an animal.
“There can be capture for transplant reasons to capture animals to move them from here to over there. There can be capture for research questions and it includes animal capture maybe you are measuring some things, maybe you are collecting some health samples, maybe you are putting a radio collar on an animal,” said Quentin Kujula with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Biologists use a wide variety of methods to capture animals from traps, spotlighting and netting birds, ground darting, drop nets but one of the main methods is using a helicopter to dart or net an animal.
“Some of those methods are more specific or targeted than others, aerial darting or aerial net gunning you can obviously be very specific taking just bucks or just cow elk obviously you can target those animals easier,” Kujula said.
Thru the years, wildlife capture methods have evolved, but safety has always been the main goal.
“The fundamental objective is to capture the animal in a manner that is safe to the human involved and is safe to the animals, those have been top priorities from the very beginning,” Kujula said.
While capturing wildlife is a very useful management method, today’s modern technology is allowing biologists to manage wildlife without handling them.
“The non-invasive methodologies collecting the hair samples for DNA, camerawork that has added to the toolbox, but it hasn’t removed the need to go out and physically capture the animal,” Kujula concluded.
Reporting by Winston Greeley for Montana FWP