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 2019 Report & Data
We recorded a total of 139 moose on Moose Day 2019. This is over the total of 124 moose seen in 2011 (another deep-snow year) and below the record of 172 in 2017— when a mother lode of 57 moose was observed out the east end of the Gros Ventre at the Darwin Ranch. Numbers from 2019 are well above our average count of 87 moose. This year, terrain was covered by 94 total volunteers on 33 teams. These teams covered 43 different areas and racked up a total of 248 volunteer hours. Volunteers traveled by foot, skis, snowshoes, cars, and snowmobile.
Buffalo Valley harbored 19 moose and the area west of Lower Slide Lake had 18. Antelope Flats, Kelly, the floodplain corridor and the area west to the airport had a total of 13. The Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club north into Solitude had a count of 10. Most moose, over 50, were in and around Wilson: south down the dike (9), Trail Creek drainage (16), Fall Creek Road (5), and Snake River Ranch (9), as well as scattered in subdivisions (15). Three moose were sighted in Jackson (with several others later in the day), and a few moose were spotted south around Cottonwood, Rafter J, and South Park.
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 23.
Moose Day Protocols
- 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.