JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 On clear days, expect the skies to be buzzing with spotter choppers as Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducts\u00a0extensive aerial surveys over the next couple of weeks. The department is hoping to get a more accurate count on the number of mule deer in the\u00a0Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herd. The surveys will involve two helicopters flying over the foothills and deer winter ranges on the east side of the Wyoming Range, winter range complexes north and southwest of Kemmerer, and west side of the Salt River Range in Star Valley. Residents in rural communities may see personnel conducting these\u00a0helicopter\u00a0flights\u00a0in quick \u201cfly-overs\u201d as mule deer are counted.\u00a0Of course, every precaution will be taken to avoid disturbance to people and livestock. Mule deer populations have been in decline across western North America, and WGFD\u00a0is committed to doing all they can to reverse the downward trend. As part of the statewide Wyoming Mule Deer Initiative, the Game and Fish identified certain mule deer herds to focus on, including the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Herd. Helicopter surveys are commonly used to estimate population size and composition of big game herds like\u00a0mule deer, elk, and moose.\u00a0Helicopters allow biologists to count animals in areas where roads are sparse and to survey large areas more efficiently and accurately.\u00a0This mule deer sightability survey is a more comprehensive survey that determines the number of mule deer\u00a0surveyors may be missing from the air due to cover and deer behavior and ultimately provides a more accurate estimate of\u00a0how many deer there are. This sightability survey\u00a0is a scientifically\u00a0accepted method that has\u00a0been used for many years throughout the United States and Canada.\u00a0Data from the survey gives wildlife managers an \u201canchor\u201d for future population models and allows\u00a0wildlife managers to better track trends in the herds.\u00a0Sightability surveys are costly and time consuming, but the WGFD is committed to obtaining the most accurate data to guide future management decisions.