South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks catches white-tailed deer, elk on trail cameras
Deer in the headlights?
For the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, it’s more like a deer caught on trail camera.
As part of an ongoing project between GFP and researchers at the University of Montana, about 360 trail cameras have been set in the Black Hills and parts of northwestern South Dakota.
Using both motion sensor and timer technology, the two-year-long project has resulted in millions of photos for researchers to sort through in search of white-tailed deer and elk.
And while the goal isn’t to just capture cute animal photos, it’s a big part of the project — in gathering photos over an expansive area, researchers hope to better calculate abundance and learn more about herd composition, said Andy Lindbloom, a senior big game biologist with GFP.
Usually, researchers will use land vehicles or helicopters to count deer and elk, but these methods don’t always create accurate counts, especially when animals run away before being counted or are hidden from view. Areas with complex topography — like that in the Black Hills — can also make these kind of counts more difficult.
Lindbloom said the first trail cameras were first placed for the project about two years ago. As the project has gained more federal funding and grant money from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, more cameras have been added.
Currently, there are about 260 trail cameras in the Black Hills and 100 in northwestern South Dakota.
“We haven’t captured Sasquatch yet,” Lindbloom joked during Thursday’s GFP Commission meeting. “But I know we will.”