Project Backyard

Backyard Moose
photo taken by Susan Marsh

Nature Mapping Jackson Hole is increasing community knowledge of the kinds and distribution of wildlife that live in and around populated areas. This knowledge will help planners, resources managers, home owners associations and valley residents make decisions that help people live compatibly with wildlife.

Gathering information about backyard wildlife use in Teton County is extremely important. For example, during the winter months large ungulates are concentrated in the valleys and surrounding foothills where they are within and adjacent to developed areas. However, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which is responsible for estimating their numbers and distribution, is unable to fly these areas due to safety and human disturbance issues. As a result, they have limited data in such areas, and backyard wildlife observations help fill this data gap.

Project Backyard is also helping to document the arrival and departure dates of migratory birds, rare species, unusual distributions, etc. And, maybe most importantly, the project is documenting the presence and numbers of common species. As stated by Bert Raynes, we hope to "keep common species common."

Observing Wildlife In Your Backyard (Systematic Monitoring)

As a citizen science program, Nature Mapping Jackson Hole requires careful collection of data in order to maintain quality output. The following protocols are designed to assure that all participants collect data in a consistent manner. It is very important to follow these protocols and the Nature Mapping Jackson Hole motto: "When In Doubt, Leave It Out". Remember, the data you collect have value only if they are accurate.

Although mammals are relatively common in many of the private and developed areas of Jackson Hole, there is little documentation about when and where they occur and their relative abundance.

A bird feeder is not a requirement for gathering data about birds near your home. However, a bird feeder will attract birds, and helps facilitate opportunities for interesting observations. To reduce chances of bears obtaining bird seed and becoming food conditioned (dangerous), remember to hang feeders at least 10 feet high and four feet from the trunk of a tree. If you do use a feeder, be sure to KEEP IT FILLED with bird seed. The birds are depending on you.

Protocols for Project Backyard

White-winged Crossbill
photo taken by Susan Marsh
  • Observations can be made throughout the week from around your home.
  • We suggest keeping a printed observation form nearby to record your running tally of species.
  • Record each species only once per week with the highest number of individuals seen during that week.
  • If you have a flock or a herd that comes frequently, count only the highest number of individuals seen at any one time. For instance, if you are counting pine siskins, and you see 12 individuals in your sampling area (your yard), and later you see 18 individuals, and still later you see 6 individuals, you will report 18 pine siskins.
  • When you enter your observations online for the week, be sure to choose Backyard as the project.
  • If you have entered the UTM coordinates for your home into your My Account information, they will be entered automatically when you choose the Backyard Project.

See the Getting Started section of the Nature Mapping website for complete instructions on entering data.