Friday, January 5, 2018

Food-Conditioned Red Fox Killed in Grand Teton

A red fox, which had received numerous food handouts from people in Grand Teton National Park, was put to death recently. The fox exhibited bold behavior by approaching people and vehicles in search of food, and was killed out of concern for human safety. Visitors are reminded that feeding park wildlife is illegal, and may ultimately lead to the death of an animal or injury to park visitors.

“Destruction of a wild animal is one of the most difficult actions we have to take as park stewards,” said Superintendent David Vela. “Hopefully this can serve as a cautionary reminder. I encourage everyone to help protect wildlife by securing food sources, including dog food and fish scraps, and by using the ‘Scare, don’t stare’ tactic to discourage approaching foxes.” Vela added that visitors can help hold each other accountable and should immediately report incidents of animals being fed to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307.739.3301.

Evidence suggests there has been a marked increase in the population of red foxes in recent years. Accompanying the apparent population increase, biologists have documented increasing numbers of habituated and food-conditioned foxes. The small native animals have been observed begging for food in developed areas and harassing ice fisherman on Jackson Lake.

The rise in human-fox encounters spurred biologists to begin a red fox research project in the winter of 2016-2017. The goal of the study is to improve understanding of red fox ecology and to address management concerns related to human safety and wildlife health. To date, 13 foxes have been captured and tested for disease prevalence, genetic lineage, and use of natural and human foods. Some of these foxes have been fitted with radio collars to track movements and habitat use, locate dens, document reproductive success, and follow other trends.

One of these collared foxes, a two- or three-year-old male, was known to frequent the Jackson Lake Dam and Signal Mountain areas. Reports involving this individual over the last year include lingering around ice fisherman and receiving fish scraps as well as getting into dog food left unsecured by visitors in a campground. In recent weeks, park staff received numerous reports of the bold fox approaching visitors in the dam parking lot, and in at least one instance jumping up on a vehicle to beg for food.

On December 28, park biologists observed the fox for two hours as it continually walked in front of moving vehicles, approached vehicles and people, and loitered in the roadway. The biologists were also told the fox had been fed grapes by a visitor the previous day.

The fox was captured, immobilized, and transported to a location away from visitors to be dispatched. The fox was of a normal healthy weight, and samples were taken to determine its dietary composition. Relocation of the fox was considered, but ultimately dismissed, as relocated foxes typically continue to beg for human food in a new area, return to their original territory, or die due to starvation or competition with other territorial foxes.

The “Scare, don’t stare” tactic includes yelling, clapping, stomping, and avoiding eye contact in an effort to dissuade foxes from approaching humans. The tactic should only be employed after attempts to maintain a minimum viewing distance of 25 yards have failed. It should not be used with foxes that behave naturally.



Jeff
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Friday, December 15, 2017

Wyoming State Parks First Day Hikes Scheduled

In what is becoming an increasingly popular New Year’s Day activity, Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails provides “First Day Hikes” – a perfect way for Wyoming residents and out-of-state visitors to celebrate the New Year outdoors.

Sixteen New Year’s Day guided hikes and walks held at state park and historic site venues statewide will be held in conjunction with similar hikes held in all 50 states; a part of the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

This is the seventh consecutive year Wyoming is offering free First Day Hikes. Last year, more than 500 people participated hiking more than 700 total miles.

“There is nothing more rejuvenating than sharing a brisk hike with Wyoming State Park staff in some of the most amazing parks and historic sites in the country,” State Parks Administrator Domenic Bravo said.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the state park or historic site. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips regarding proper clothing are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit www.naspd.org to find a First Day Hike nearest you.

You can also view a list of hikes and events by clicking here.



Jeff
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Becoming An Outdoors Woman Winter Workshop Set For Jan 26-28

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program is hosting a winter skills workshop January 26-28, 2018, in Seeley Lake.

Registration is now open and women are encouraged to sign up with a friend and learn a new activity or improve existing skills. Participants choose three classes from these winter activities: avalanche awareness, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, sewing with fur, skinning and hide prep, and snowshoeing. Anyone 18 years of age or older may participate. The fee for the workshop is $115 and includes class instruction and some meals. Participants are responsible for their own lodging. This is a popular workshop and will fill quickly, so register today!

To download a registration form visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov, click "Education," then click "Becoming and Outdoors Woman. "For more information on the BOW Winter workshop, call Sara Smith, 406-444-9948 or email sarsmith@mt.gov.



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First Day Hike Events Coming to Montana State Parks - January 1, 2018

Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) is inviting the public to welcome in the New Year with First Day Hikes at Montana State Parks on January 1, 2018.

Start your New Year off on the right (or left) foot with a "First Day Hike" at your local state park. Montana State Parks will offer First Day Hikes at five locations across the state. Explore history, view winter landscapes and wildlife, and let the fresh air rejuvenate you. These 1 to 3-mile, easy to moderate hikes are the perfect means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors, exercising and connecting with nature.

‘First Day Hikes’ is an annual, nationwide special event sponsored by America’s State Parks. Last year nearly 55,000 people, from all 50 states, rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on the guided hikes.

For a list of First Day Hike events, please click here.



Jeff
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Citizen Advisory Committee Meeting to Highlight Moose Research

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff will present highlights from a multi-year statewide moose research project at a public meeting this week.

Members of the public are invited to attend the Region One Citizen Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 6 starting at 6:30 p.m. The meeting is at FWP’s regional headquarters at 490 N. Meridian in Kalispell.

The meeting agenda includes a presentation by FWP research technician Jesse Newby, who has been studying Montana’s moose population. Newby will provide an update from FWP’s 10-year statewide research project as it finishes its fifth year. The presentation will include updates on efforts to develop a cost-effective statewide monitoring program for moose, as well as updates on field research into moose population dynamics.

Concern has emerged in recent years over widespread declines of North American moose populations along the southern extent of their range. Populations in Montana appear to have declined since the 1990’s, as evidenced by aerial survey trends and hunter harvest statistics

In 2013, FWP began a 10-year study designed to help the department better understand the status and trends of moose populations across Montana and identify the most cost-effective means to monitor those populations and maximize hunter opportunity.

The Region One Citizen Advisory Committee is comprised of local residents who help FWP achieve its goals by serving two main functions: providing the agency with information, ideas, emerging trends and initiatives from the public in a setting that welcomes diverse interests, and providing a vehicle for FWP to inform citizens.

For more information, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/regions/r1/cac/.



Jeff
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

National Park Service Extends Public Comment Period for Proposed Peak-Season Entrance Fees at 17 Parks

The National Park Service has extended the public comment periods for the proposed peak-season entrance fees at 17 national parks and revised fees for road-based commercial tours and will accept comments until December 22, 2017. If implemented, the increased fees would generate needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks.

The deadlines, originally scheduled for November 23, have been extended to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public. Already, more than 65,000 comments have been received on the proposals.

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at 17 highly visited national parks. The peak season for each park would include its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. The peak season entrance fee for a seven-day pass to each park would be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.

The cost of the annual America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including all national parks for a one-year period, would remain $80. Entrance fees are not charged to visitors under 16 years of age or holders of Senior, Military, Access, Volunteer, or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes. The majority of national parks will remain free to enter; only 118 of 417 parks have an entrance fee.

The proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

Fees have long been an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience and recreation opportunities in national parks and on other federal lands. Estimates suggest that the peak season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. The funds would be used to improve roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other amenities which enhance the visitor experience. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80% of entrance fees remain in the park where they are collected. The other 20% of the revenue is distributed to other national parks.

Access to the vast majority of National Park Service sites remains free; only 118 of 417 National Park Service units charge an entrance fee.

The public can comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal until December 22, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.

The public comment period for proposed entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators has also been extended until December 22. The proposal would increase entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements for road-based commercial tours, including application and management fees. All CUA fees stay within the collecting park and would fund rehabilitation projects for buildings, facilities, parking lots, roads, and wayside exhibits that would enhance the visitor experience. The fees will also cover the administrative costs of receiving, reviewing, and processing CUA applications and required reports.

The proposal also includes a peak-season commercial entry fee structure for the 17 national parks referenced above. All proposed fee adjustments for commercial operators would go into effect following an implementation window.

Information and a forum for public comments regarding commercial permit requirements and fees is available until December 22, 2017 on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commercialtourrequirements. Written comments can be sent to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.



Jeff
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Monday, November 13, 2017

Glacier National Park Builds Sister Park Relationship with Mongolian Park

A delegation from Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and the Mongolian Department of Protected Areas Management visited Glacier National Park for five days this October. The visit included the signing of a Sister Park Arrangement between Glacier National Park and Gorkhi-Terelj National Park on October 24.

The Mongolian delegation included two members of the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism, including the Director, and four staff. Glacier National Park volunteers and past employees Fred and Lynne VanHorn provided primary logistical support for the delegation.

Glacier National Park has had a sister park agreement with the Khan Khentii Protected Area in Mongolia—just north of Gorkhi-Terelj—since 2004. Khan Khentii Protected area was divided into two parts in 2013, one of which is Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is located in Northeast Mongolia, 37 Km from Ulaanbaatar, the nation's capital.

The purpose of the sister park relationship is to promote international cooperation for the mutual benefit of the parks, provide a forum for collaboration about shared challenges, enrich the experience and training of park personnel through international exchanges and to share the cultural and social values of both countries.

Mongolia and Montana are located at the same latitude and have similar landforms, ecosystems, and wildlife. These similarities provide a unique platform for international cooperation and information sharing. The relationship with Gorkhi-Terelj will allow both parks to exchange expertise and to collaborate on a variety of projects, including education and youth programs, GIS mapping and trails development, threatened species protection, and the development of adaptive strategies in response to climate change.

During the visit, the Mongolian delegation toured the park and met with park staff and the park's non-profit partners. They also worked with park staff to assemble a ger, which is a type of yurt that the Mongolian Ministry of Environment gifted to Glacier National Park several years ago. The Glacier National Park Conservancy supported the visit, covering local expenses associated with their visit to the area.



Jeff
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