Figuring out what sorts of wildlife make use of a 2,500-acre collection of open space properties is no easy task. Nonetheless, Sky Mountain Park outside of Snowmass Village is carefully monitored for mammals and birds (in addition to vegetation, in separate studies). The goal is simple, though the means are complex: Ensure the park is managed to protect its biodiversity while providing recreational opportunities to its most obvious users – humans.
The 2017 Sky Mountain Park Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, prepared by Colorado Wildlife Science, documents the results of monitoring activities at the park.
Monitoring wildlife at Sky Mountain Park involves on-the-ground observers searching in specifically plotted areas for not only actual animals and birds, but also scat, tracks, rubbed trees, bedded vegetation and other indicators of various species. In addition, infrared cameras and scent stations are used to attract and record the comings and goings of nocturnal animals. Owl surveys involve broadcasting recorded calls of owl species and listening for responses by actual owls. The owl calls, incidentally, produced the first record of breeding flammulated owls in the park. (more…)