LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says it employed a contracted helicopter to count deer in the rugged high country of the Pine Ridge in northwest corner of the state.

Over five days in early February, Game and Parks staff members surveyed eight areas of the Pine Ridge Management Unit, which encompasses 429 square miles. They counted 862 mule deer, 68 bucks, 477 does and 317 fawns.

The findings will help officials set hunting regulations and other management strategies for mule deer. Biologists suspect the species is struggling in some areas because of disease and other challenges.

The commission says staff members also counted 659 white-tailed deer, 96 elk and 11 bighorn sheep during the flights.