Glacier seeks help in mapping wildlife crossings on Highway 2

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With Glacier’s peaks in the background, traffic heads down U.S. Highway 2 in Coram in this file photo.

Glacier National Park asks local residents to join an effort to record evidence of wildlife crossing over roads and rivers in the U.S. Highway 2 corridor.

The park is hosting a “map-a-thon” to identify past wildlife crossings along the US Highway 2 corridor. Observations of any past animal crossings or attempted crossings can help identify potential locations for wildlife crossing structures or other mitigation efforts to help wildlife migrate safely throughout the larger Crown of the Continent region.

“We invite people who have seen wildlife crossing the highway and river corridor to share their observations on where, when, and which species they saw crossing the corridor,” said John Waller, a wildlife biologist in Glacier National Park. “We are interested in both common species such as deer, and less common species such as lynx, bears, or wolverines.”

Information the public has about wildlife crossing activity can be recent or from the more distant past, Waller said. Researchers also will document any details known about the crossing or attempted crossing.

U.S. Highway 2 between West Glacier and East Glacier is an important transportation corridor and an important wildlife movement corridor that connects Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest, including the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. Glacier and “the Bob” provide over 2.5 million acres of protected area critical to many wildlife species.

In 2018, an interagency group of researchers and managers began a project to identify options for preserving migrations and movement of animals, plants, and ecological processes. Researchers will host a free Wildlife Crossings Map-a-Thon workshop for the public to learn more about the project and report observations on

• Tuesday, July 9, 4:00 – 6:00 pm – Hungry Horse Ranger District US Forest Service Office and

• Wednesday, July 17, 4 to 6 p.m. – East Glacier Lodge, Feather Room

Workshops will start with a short presentation about wildlife and highways. Then participants can report observations of any wildlife sightings along the Highway 2 corridor. Anyone with information about animals moving along the highway and river corridor (successfully or unsuccessfully) may meet with staff, who will record where the animals were seen and any other details available, such as season, time of day, or year.

Observations of animal crossing and movement in the Highway 2 corridor also may be shared with Brandon Kittson by emailing him at Brandon_kittson@partner.nps.gov, by setting up an appointment with him, or by attending one of his “office hours” sessions:

· Wednesday, July 10, all day – Blackfeet Youth Days (All Chiefs Park)

· Thursday, July 18, 3-5:30 p.m. – Blackfeet Community College

· Monday, Aug. 5, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. – Blackfeet Community College

· Wednesday, Aug. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Blackfeet Youth Days (Heart Butte)

Additional map-a-thon sharing opportunities will occur in West Glacier in August.

This summer and fall, Glacier National Park will host a number of other citizen science projects. The citizen science program allows participants to explore the park and learn about important park resources while collecting valuable data for park managers.

Participants can help with several projects on an ongoing basis, or attend a one-time citizen science event.

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