August 1, 2022
This moose was spotted in the water by Carrie Miller, a volunteer who rode the Fox Park/Rob Roy trail in the Snowy Range. This year’s Summer Moose Day, held on July 16, resulted in the spotting of 15 adult moose and one calf in the Pole Mountain area, Snowy Range and near Arlington. The UW Biodiversity Institute sponsored the event. (Carrie Miller photo)
For the seventh year, community scientists helped identify moose populations in the mountains outside Laramie for Summer Moose Day. And the numbers were comparable to previous summer counts.
Thirty volunteers ventured into Albany County on July 16, with five trails in the Pole Mountain area, six trails in the Snowy Range, and one near Arlington. The University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute sponsored the event.
“Surveys saw 16 moose: 10 males, five females and one calf,” said Mason Lee, senior project coordinator at the UW Biodiversity Institute. “This number seems roughly comparable to previous Summer Moose Days, although there is certainly variation between the years. On average, in previous years, men are most often observed. Signs of moose – such as droppings and tracks – were also observed. Heavy rainfall in parts of the study areas made it difficult to tell whether the droppings were fresh or old.”
The 16 spotted moose correspond to the number found in the summer of 2016.
In a change from previous Moose Days – where each route was only explored by one group – some routes were taken by more than one research group.
“This change has been requested by the Moose Day researcher because it will allow the collection of data to see how good humans are at detecting moose signs,” Lee says.
The community scientists walked or rode designated trails between sunrise and mid-morning. They recorded sightings of moose or their marks, including tracks/hoof marks, beds, droppings and leaves on aspen and willow trees.
These voluntary observations were loaded into iNaturalist so that the public can immediately see where moose were seen. INaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. Messages from the current season can be found at www.inaturalist.org/projects/summer-moose-day.
These two moose were spotted in the Sand Lake area of the Snowy Range as part of the UW Biodiversity Institute’s Summer Moose Day. (Dennis Saville photo)
Summer Moose Day data is shared with UW biologists. These biologists use the data collected by community scientists to advance their understanding of local elk population densities, their reproduction rate, summer habitat quality, winter range, and how these variables change over time.
More will be learned after Dave Christianson, an associate professor in UW’s division of Ecosystem Science and Management, and his graduate students analyze Summer Moose Day data, as well as external factors that could affect moose numbers, Lee says.
Both summer and winter events on Moose Day are aimed at increasing the public’s understanding of moose in the Laramie area and involving the public in asking and answering questions. These events are an extension of the original program, Moose Day, held each winter by Nature Mapping Jackson Hole (NMJH) in Jackson. NMJH is a citizen science program established by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation.
The UW Biodiversity Institute promotes biodiversity conservation 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 at www.wyomingbiodiversity.org.