The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting a series of aerial capture and release operations in North Central Washington.

Bighorn sheep, mule deer, and mountain goats will be captured and fitted with GPS collars, before being released back into the wild.

Data from the collars will used to monitor the survival rate and movement of the animals, and to pinpoint areas they settle into.

The capture and release operation will be conducted from mid-January through March in several counties along the eastern slope of the Cascade Range.

“Fitting ungulates with radio collars gives us an incredible dataset to help inform our management,” said WDFW ungulate section manager Kyle Garrison. “GPS data allows us to study the impacts of a disease, like pneumonia in bighorn sheep, and ultimately help to identify management solutions. The data also helps us learn how animals use a landscape, which informs habitat conservation efforts that are key to long-term population viability.”

The animals will be monitored for about four years for various purposes depending on species and location.

Bighorn sheep in Manson will be monitored to determine their survival rate and the areas where they choose to graze.

WDFW recently prohibited visitors from bringing domestic sheep and goats to WDFW-owned land, in order to protect bighorn sheep deadly bacteria carried by the domestic sheep.

Data gathered from Mule deer in eastern Okanogan County will used to pinpoint their migration paths and grazing territory.

Mountain goats in the Lake Chelan area will be monitored for their population and survival rate, as well as where they choose to settle into.

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