We read the stories in the news all the time. Stories like police escorting children to school and closing a community pathway because a cougar was spotted in a commercial and residential area just blocks from elementary, middle, and high schools. Wildlife managers killing a wolf that regularly roamed neighborhoods near High School Butte. The 2012 Horsethief Canyon Fireprompting fire officials to warn East Jackson residents of possible evacuations. Bear managers calling in reinforcements to help cope with the influx of black bears seeking human foods in trash and bird-feeders in and around the town of Jackson.
And then there are the stories we don’t read about. Stories like those of moose regularly becoming trapped and drowning in man-made ponds. Elk becoming entangled in holiday lights. Well-meaning, yet misguided, people feeding deer and moose, luring the ungulates and, consequently, predators closer to residential areas. Deer and moose finding their migration corridors blocked by impassable fences. Some attempting to jump and becoming injured, entangled, or separated from their offspring. Moose and bison wandering into neighborhoods, attracted by palatable landscaping, and homeowners finding themselves effectively stranded in their homes.
The stories are tragic and all too common. Yet many of them are preventable if we work together on small, easy changes that make it easier to live amid wildlife and help keep us safe in case of wildfire. Which is exactly what the Wild Neighborhoods program is all about.
The Alliance believes that together as a community, we must provide a model for the next frontier of the conservation movement: coexisting within an ecosystem that includes human residences. The Wild Neighborhoods program is a coalition of local partner organizations designed to provide guidance and resources to homeowners about reducing conflicts with wildlife and preparing for wildfire.
Several conservation groups and government agencies in Jackson Hole have successful programs that tackle pieces of this problem. By collaborating with a wide range of partners, Wild Neighborhoods strengthens these existing programs and promotes new ideas, allowing homeowners to look to one source for guidance. Together, we work with homeowners to:
- Reduce wildlife conflicts in neighborhoods,
- Facilitate free movement of wildlife through residential areas,
- Prepare homes for wildfires, and
- Protect habitat near residential areas.