Laramie Moose Lovers, You’re Invited To This One
University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute will be helping in coordinating Winter Moose Day this February 11th, according to a release by the university.
Those who like moose and want to try to spot one or maybe more are invited to search for the large mammals by snowshoe or skis.
For the ninth year running, community scientists will be able to help track moose populations in the mountains outside of Laramie for Winter Moose Day.
- Date: Saturday, February 11
- Location: Vedauwoo/Happy Jack and Snowy Range Mountains areas
- Registration opens Monday, January 16, and will close on Wednesday, February 1
- Register HERE
Volunteers adopt survey routes and ski or snowshoe those routes to record all observations of moose or signs of moose. These can include tracks/hoofprints in snow, bed areas, scat droppings, and browse on aspen and willows. To survey while moose are most active, participants are asked to get to their routes as early as dawn and to complete their surveys by noon.
These volunteer observations can be loaded into iNaturalist so the public can view right away where moose were seen. INaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
The data gathered from Winter Moose Day are shared with biologists at UW. These biologists use the data collected by community scientists to further their understanding of the population densities of local moose, their reproductive rates, their winter ranges, and how these variables change over time.
Mason Lee, senior project coordinator for the Biodiversity Institute, says that during the 2022 Winter Moose Day, 15 adult moose and four calves were observed, and many signs of moose -- scat, tracks, etc. -- were seen. That was the greatest number of moose ever seen on one Winter Moose Day.
Dave Christianson, an associate professor in the UW Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, says, “Our best guess as to the number of moose we will see this year is the number we saw last year. This is a ‘sciency’ answer and probably not a very satisfying answer, but one that is likely to be right more often than not. As scientists, we try to only let the data lead our assumptions.”
Lee says that Winter Moose Day is often marked by strong winds or snowfall, both of which can obscure fresh tracks and signs of moose. These conditions can result in few sightings of moose signs.
As of February 2022, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department estimated there were 3,105 moose in Wyoming, with moose populations stabilizing. The estimate is based on flight surveys conducted annually by the department.
Training for the newbies
Before heading out into the wild, new participants are scheduled for required training on Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. Training consists of a one-hour classroom session and a one-hour outside training component.
The institute will have some available for loan, but volunteers who are interested in collecting more in-depth data are encouraged to bring their own rangefinders and compasses to the training if they have them.
About UW Biodiversity Institute
The UW Biodiversity Institute fosters the conservation of biodiversity through scientific discovery, creative dissemination, education, and public engagement. In this setting, scientists, citizens, students, and educators come together to share a wealth of perspectives on the study and appreciation of biodiversity -- from microbes to poetry and ecosystems to economics.
Learn more HERE.