Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is broadening its reach and training people to help collect data on vehicle wildlife collisions in Teton Valley.
“The goal is to start to map out where hotspots are in the valley,” said JHWF communications manager Kyle Kissock. “That’s the first step in mitigating the problem and building awareness.”
JHWF held its first Teton Valley Nature Mapping training on March 12 at the Teton Regional Land Trust office. There was another scheduled for March 19 but that meeting was postponed.
The trainings are part of the nonprofit’s Nature Mapping program, a long-term citizen science research project with the purpose of increasing public knowledge, informing management decisions, and augmenting data collected by state and federal agencies. The program is supported by the Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund.
Seven west-side Nature Mappers gained certification on March 12 and learned how to use the JHWF progressive web app to record wildlife-vehicle collisions in the valley. The training included helpful wildlife identification tips like differentiating between mule deer and whitetails or determining the gender of a moose without paddles. Kissock said that all seven of the newly-certified Nature Mappers have already contributed observations to the database.
People interested in learning about future trainings should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s very easy and anyone can do it, we just need people who are passionate about nature,” Kissock said.
He noted that the volunteer observations collected in Teton County, Wyoming, have led to increased signage and the successful passage last year of a $10 million special purpose excise tax directed at wildlife crossing solutions.
“That started with people being concerned about roadkill and collecting data,” Kissock said. “We’re definitely trying to expand regionally and increase people’s knowledge and appreciation of wildlife in this ecosystem.”
This year, valley resident John Beller trained and deployed eight volunteers around Alta to participate in Moose Day on Feb. 20. Moose Day is an annual one-day survey conducted by JHWF, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park, and the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The push to gather data in Teton Valley comes in tandem with the news that JHWF will hire a new executive director, Renee Seidler, a valley resident and the former transportation specialist with Idaho Fish & Game. Seidler also co-founded the Teton Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Driggs.
JHWF offers other volunteer opportunities through the summer including Snake River float trips and a mountain bluebird nest box monitoring program. For more information visit jhwildlife.org.