The Challenge

Gathering information about ungulates such as moose serves many purposes in Jackson Hole. Wildlife biologists concentrate on public lands when they survey Jackson Hole’s moose populations. Recording observations of moose throughout the valley and adjacent to developed neighborhoods helps us understand how to live compatibly with a treasured species of wildlife. While valley citizens can often feel disconnected from wildlife management decisions, the annual Moose Day survey is a great opportunity to contribute directly to our collective wildlife knowledge.

The Solution

Certified citizen scientists of Nature Mapping Jackson Hole track moose on pre-assigned parcels on Moose Day – an annual survey conducted in collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), Grand Teton National Park, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Teams of two or three people get an assigned territory in areas that are difficult for the WGFD to survey (mostly near private lands or adjacent to more developed areas) and record moose observations. These collected data contribute to monitoring moose population trends in Jackson Hole over time. A winter’s day searching the valley for moose is one of many exciting Nature Mapping Jackson Hole projects that connect members of the community to one another and to our wild lands.

Moose Day 2017 Report & Data

Moose Day 2017 set a record for community participation and for the number of moose counted. We extend our thanks to the Nature Mappers and new recruits as well as, biologists from Wyoming Game & Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park and U.S. Forest Service. All volunteered their time from 7 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, February 25.

This year, a total of 33 teams, comprising 83 volunteers counted 166 moose in 59 search areas, contributing over 290 hours time.

This exceeds our previous record of 124 moose in 2011, and the 99 moose seen last year. Volunteer numbers are well over our 65 person average. In 2016, we had 73 participants helping with the count. This was our 9th annual Moose Day.

Volunteers snowmobiled, snowshoed, drove, walked and most of all, climbed up snow banks to scout moose! Many were rewarded by seeing moose — in some cases many! Successful surveyors often had local tips or tracked fresh moose sign to find hidden individuals. In other cases, neighborhood teams were disappointed to not see the moose that was “there yesterday” and saw no moose at all. However, zero (0) moose is important data as well. And, it is clear that moose move!

Where were the moose this year? It appears they were attracted to low-lying willow wetlands, such as Buffalo Fork Valley, along the Gros Ventre River and in Wilson. For instance, Kerry Murphy and his U.S. Forest Service team were able to survey the Gros Ventre all the way east to Darwin Ranch. Along this route, often with extensive willow stands, they surveyed 57 moose! Much closer to civilization, moose were seen browsing on exotic shrubs in Jackson or loafing in the shelter of buildings. In a few spots, moose were even congregating close to horses. Read more at the JHWF Blog.

Project Backyard Jackson Hole 2015

Photos by mappers Alice Cornell (top) and Randy Reedy (bottom) – Moose Day 2017.
Large photo above by Gigi Halloran from a prior Moose Day survey.

 

Moose Day Protocols

As a citizen science program, Nature Mapping Jackson Hole requires careful collection of data in order to maintain quality output. The following Moose Day protocols are designed to assure that all volunteers collect data in a consistent manner.

  • Cover your area as thoroughly as possible between dawn (7 am) and noon.
  • Record moose only for your area. If you observe a moose in another area, you can make the observation, but put in “Comments” that it wasn’t seen in your area.
  • You are welcome to make “Casual Observations” of other species, time permitting.
  • If you find an area where you suspect someone is feeding ungulates (e.g. a large # of animals congregating in one spot), please let us know. We are trying to increase our educational efforts around this issue as it may contribute to increased wildlife vehicle collisions.
  • Covering your area can be done by any means that are appropriate for your area (car, skis, snowshoes, etc.). Please display the Nature Mapping Moose Day sign on your vehicle.
  • If you do not have a partner, please let the volunteer coordinator know. A second set of eyes is critical to help you search. More than two people are fine. We’ve found that the success rate increases tremendously with a second set of eyes especially for those routes that are
    primarily automobile-based. And also if you are skiing it is important for safety.
  • Please keep track of time spent searching and how you traveled. For example: 3 hours total: 1 hour on skis + 2 hours by car. Please email this information to Frances during the week.

Refresh your memory about moose identification with this PDF presentation from 2012 Moose Day.

Photo Credits:

Henry Holdsworth
Mark Gocke
Steve Morriss
Sava Malachowski
Leine Stikkel
Tim Griffith
Jon Mobeck

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation

330 N. Glenwood Street
Jackson, WY 83002
(307) 739-0968
All rights reserved.

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