Wildlife Species Sighting Challenge
Canada lynx, merlin, river otter and trumpeter swan
December 10, 2006
Do you enjoy watching wildlife? Throw in the challenge of some competition, and the new winter series of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Species of the Season Challenge should provide an exciting quest for outdoors enthusiasts.
WGFD is seeking sightings this winter on four designated species: Canada lynx, merlin, river otter and trumpeter swan.
These four species were chosen due to their visibility during the winter and because they should be fairly easy for the casual observer to recognize.
If participants observe these species, they are asked to record relevant information about them. If possible, it is especially useful to get a photograph of the animal sighting. However, even observations of tracks can be quite helpful. It is also important that participants provide adequate contact information with their submissions as it might become necessary for Game and Fish personnel to request follow-up information.
Each participant in the program will receive a scorecard and compete for top honors. The person with the most sightings will be the winner of the Winter Species Challenge. The spring/summer series was won by Mike Longbottom of Cody with 16 submissions.
A key component to being successful in the challenge is to become knowledgeable about the species ahead of time. Information about the species and similar species can be found on the Game and Fish web site which provides detailed information about the type of habitats used, possible locations, distinguishing characteristics, and explanations on how to recognize the species from similar species.
The challenge is especially important because of the assistance the public can provide the Game and Fish. "There are many species we need documentation of, and there are only so many of us," said Reg Rothwell, Biological Services supervisor for the Game and Fish. "Observations by the public are very much appreciated."
This project was based on a public awareness effort stemming from the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. In this conservation plan, 278 species were identified as "species of greatest conservation need." Most of these species are identified as such simply because of a lack of information. This is where the public can provide a valuable service.
Since the program received a good response last season, Game and Fish is continuing it in the upcoming seasons and encourages more participants to become involved. The challenge is the perfect opportunity for students, parents, teachers and wildlife enthusiasts to learn more about wildlife and wildlife surveying.
Detailed information about the challenge can be found at the Game and Fish web site at http://gf.state.wy.us/ and clicking on the "Species of the Season Challenge" link in the "What's Hot" section.
For more information contact: Margaret James (307) 777-4563 or Reg Rothwell (307) 777-4580.