Salisbury is tucked between the Green Mountains and the Champlain Valley, and both of these landscapes have much to offer to the large wildlife species we see in town. Moose, deer, bear, coyote, and bobcat take advantage of the unbroken forest in the mountains, but also depend on the mild climates, fertile habitats, and diverse vegetation in the valley. In completely wild environments, the daily or seasonal migration between critical habitats follows natural corridors where travel is easy or safe. In developed landscapes, animals have fewer options, and travel corridors narrow to avoid concentrations of roads, people, pets, buildings, or open areas. These corridors maintain the flow of individuals that keeps animal populations in both the mountains and the valley diverse and healthy. Protecting them will allow wildlife to continue to be part of natural communities in all parts of Salisbury. The first step to protecting the corridors is to identify where they are and which animals are using them.
Volunteers in Salisbury have started their fifth winter of recording the location of animal tracks in the snow where they cross roads in town (details here). We will finish this project in 2011 and present our results to the town and to others who might learn from our experiences. With financial help from the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions, the Salisbury Conservation Commission will hold a workshop for members of other conservation commissions who want to start their own wildlife tracking program (workshop details here). On Saturday, February 19, 2011, at the Salisbury Community School, we will share our knowledge and method with all. Throughout the winter we will also be adding to this website so it becomes a resource for those considering using our methods or adapting them for their own purpose.
There are some fun wildlife track photos at our Wildlife and Plant Observations blog.