In the last two weeks I have helped Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) staff with a double count elk sightability study using a helicopter. The study is conducted in the winter when elk are grouped together and forest canopy is open.
VDGIF is conducting the study every three years beginning in 2011. In the rugged mountains of southwest Virginia, helicopters are the best means of flying relatively low and slow over the terrain so animals can be spotted. Survey blocks are flown in parallel transects with observation rates of each observer recorded to estimate elk density.
It has been quite cold especially with the doors off so we can see. We have seen elk, deer, wild turkeys, ducks, woodpeckers and great blue heron. Thankfully, I haven’t gotten sick but I have been taking motion sickness pills.