Salisbury Wildlife Tracking
Since 2006, the Salisbury Conservation Commission has been working to track wildlife along all of the roads within town. This effort was put forth in order to address the concern of the affects of roads as barriers for wildlife movement due to things such as colonization, gene flow, and needed annual movement. Additionally, tracking provides a way of figuring out where road impacts with wildlife are likely to be great. The tracking itself is done by commission members and local volunteers, who periodically survey different roads in town by going out on social tracking expeditions. The data is then analyzed with help from the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and made into maps by Addison County's Regional Planner, Kevin Behm. The data collected has made its way into the town plan, and a website laden with youtube videos and useful links. In recent years, the commission has even put on tracking workshops for other conservation commissions.
This project raises awareness and interest within the community, not only for those involved, but those who access the maps. It shows people that they among wildlife. The most recent maps have been included in the town plan, and the information could be very useful for other future planning purposes. Nearly the entire town has been studied over the last eight years, and over 2000 sets of tracks have been recorded. In addition to surveying the town grounds, the Salisbury Conservation Commission is putting on workshops regarding winter tracking for other commissions.
The Salisbury Conservation Commission, the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, Citizen Scientists/Volunteers in Salisbury & surrounding towns, Kevin Bean (Addison County Regional Planner)
*Having expansive, repeated, long-term training and reinforcement of tracking skills for volunteers
*A central person to act as a "spark-plug" or cheerleader to keep people going
*Someone with GIS skills who can take the data & create meaningful maps; working with the regional planning commission was especially useful
*People who have the time, energy and know-how to evaluate the data
*A conservation commission willing to spend time outside of meetings to work on the project
*Volunteers in it for the long-term
*Using social tracking as a mechanism to reinforce volunteer's tracking skills, fact-check, and make the outings more engaging
One of the largest challenges in the beginning was figuring out how to best represent the data. A second challenge was getting volunteers to a point where they are comfortable with tracking and getting them to stick with the program. Because tracking takes so long to get the hang of, it may be hard to find a substantial group of able volunteers. Although citizen science played a large role in the project's start, it plays a smaller role now. Additionally, if the town doesn't have local expertise to fill all the necessary roles (ie: people with mapping skills, tracking skills, organizing skills) they will have to work externally to fill these niches. Because the wildlife are monitored on roads, there is no need to get owner permission to go on private lands to track. If an organization wanted to survey private lands, contacting owners would be an additional obstacle.
Salisbury Conservation Commission