For those of you who live organized lives and read the Jackson Hole News&Guide regularly on its publication date, a reminder: Tonight, March 18, 2008, a potluck supper on behalf of the wildlife of Wyoming will be enjoyed at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Everybody is most welcome to this event to introduce statewide Nature Mapping of wildlife and the Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife fund.

For those – I suspect a big majority –  readers of this newspaper who cannot get around to reading it on a weekday and missed the potluck for that reason (and those who couldn’t make it anyway), we missed you. Writing in advance as I am, I hope we have a grand old time tonight.

Wildlife is important to Wyoming residents and tourists. To hunters, fishermen, developers, planners, politicians, highway designers, wildlife managers, nature watchers, state and national park administrators ... to you and me. In Jackson Hole, recent polls found that wildlife by far was the most important aspect of living here for its residents. Something like 84 percent of respondents. Wildlife is important to all Wyomingites everywhere in the state.

What Nature Mapping does is encourage all of us to be citizen naturalists by making and recording wildlife observations around our homes or out on our excursions. Everywhere. Anywhere. Animal, bird, insect, plant or amphibian.Preferably, emphasis will be put on common species; what is happening to them is more important in the near and long term than some dramatic exotic individual making a one-time appearance. But of course, that unusual observation should be recorded; it may forecast some new invasive plant species, say, or the return of a species thought to have vanished from some habitat. Every observation is significant.

Nature Mapping collects, confirms and evaluates these observations and sees to it that the information is made widely and freely available to ultimate users and consumers as a biodiversity database and in publication.

Nature Mapping programs have been in progress in 13 states, in Washington for 15 years, in Iowa for 10, and in others for varying, shorter times. Wyoming can build on their experience and techniques. Tonight we will hear informative remarks from Karen Dvornich, co-founder and national director of the Nature Mapping program at the University of Washington. Looking forward to that.

My associates in the Meg and Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund – Dick Collister, Steve Kilpatrick, Dave Lockman, Bob Oakleaf, Susan Patla and Chuck Schneebeck will appreciate your help and advice if you wish to be a practicing citizen naturalist and support this venture.

A catchy slogan or bumper sticker is always handy. Iowa’s is nifty: Keeping Common Wildlife Common. I’m trying: If It Isn’t Recorded, It’s Lost. Any suggestions?

Now then, how about a prediction of future observations? Starting in 2010, lead ammunition and lead fishing tackle will be banned from national parks. In Jackson Hole country, this should mean fewer sick and dying eagles, ravens and other scavengers during and after elk and bison fall hunts, fewer affected trumpeter swans at any season. Safer game meat for humans to ingest.

Elemental lead is a poison. Many lead compounds are poisonous. All persistent poisons, long lasting in about any environment. Many thanks to Dan Wenk, acting director of the National Park Service, for his informed decision to ban lead hunting and fishing in the parks.

Thanks, too, to Beringea South for its contribution to the awareness of this concern.

•Field Notes: On Saturday, Valerie Schramm found a robin egg freshly laid but on the snow. Almost surely an unfertilized egg, almost surely laid by an inexperienced bird, almost surely there’s not a nest having been formed or a pair formed. When you gotta lay, you just gotta lay.

Bears are emerging from their dens. Moose are looking for browse near human habitation (and looking rough). Coyotes and foxes are nearing their mating seasons. Elk antlers have dropped or are being shed.Eagles are on eggs in southern Jackson Hole. Mountain bluebirds are returning (March 9, Mary Lohuis). Juncoes are showing up; rosy finches are still in number. A few waxwings are polishing off crab apples. Magpies are building or repairing nests (Frances Pollack, March 9).

Crossbills everywhere it seems. Terrie Musetti in Alpine was pleased to have some there (March 9). Red-winged blackbirds returning (Kayla Michaels, Alice Richter) and those robins (Sandy Faraday and many others).

A mourning dove, not a Eurasian collared dove, overwintering, seen Saturday; Roger Watson. And, an early osprey on Saturday; Lee Riddell. And, and, Kim Olson in Teton Valley, Idaho, spotted a bat; Thursday. And, and, and, Frances Pollack has daffodils about an inch above ground.

© Bert Raynes 2009


Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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