AUGUSTA — Wildlife officials say they’ve begun aerial surveys to count the number of deer in southern and central Maine.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Forest Service are teaming up in using helicopters to gauge the abundance of deer in selected wildlife management districts and gather information that is useful in managing the state’s deer herd.

The surveys began last week and continue into January.

Officials say the helicopters will fly close to the ground – about 200 feet up. The surveys will take place in areas where snow is covering the ground and only when wind speeds are low.