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.
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 2018 Report & Data
We recorded a total of 77 moose on Moose Day 2018. This was our lowest total since 2013, when volunteers spotted 67 moose, however, we were coming off a record year in 2017, when a whooping 172 moose were observed. The numbers for 2018 are only slightly below our average count of 87 moose. This year, terrain was covered by 74 total volunteers on 33 teams. These teams covered 53 different areas and racked up a total of 258 volunteer hours. Volunteers traveled by foot, skis, snowshoes, cars, and snowmobile.
We saw the most moose in the Wilson area, according to organizer Frances Clark, who tallied the totals at “about 27 in different clusters and pairs”. Grand Teton National Park from Kelly out around Black-Tail Butte and skirting the western edge of the Gros Ventre produced approximately 25 individuals. Around 8 were seen in the Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis area and 15 moose were recorded by the Forest Service while snowmobiling to the end of the Gros Ventre Road.
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 the U.S. Forest Service. All volunteered their time from 7 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, February 25.
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.
Moose Day Jackson Hole Report Archives
The first Moose Day Jackson Hole was held on April 18, 2009. The map with the recorded observations is pictured right.