Our summer hiking season has begun and we are getting creative in finding dry trails to explore. So far, spring 2023 continues the trend of cold, wet weather. This past winter ended as the longest, coldest, and snowiest on record. Snow continues to dominate the landscape except for our green valley beneath the mountains.
Animals have been slow to move towards summer habitats due to the deep snow. Many lakes are still frozen. At lower elevations, buds are swollen on the trees so leaves will be coming soon. Fortunately, grass is growing in the valley and fresh shoots and buds can be found on plants — crucial for wildlife.
As winter ends, wildlife managers check animal populations to see how the wildlife fared after the long cold and snowy winter. Sadly, not well. Typically by this time of year, the southern aspects of the mountains are clear of snow but this year the deep snow has lingered. Deer, moose, elk, bison, big horn sheep, and pronghorn have all been affected. Birthing season has begun and bears will be more active.
The Sublette County Pronghorn population had a high mortality rate with at least 50% of the herd lost to pneumonia or the severity of the winter. It could take years for the population to recover. This herd migrates into Jackson Hole for the summer months and we may see a noticeable difference in those herds.
“To damage the earth is to damage your children.”
– Wendell Berry
NATURE AWAITS YOU
- Spring weather can change rapidly — be prepared by carrying a puffy, hat and gloves.
- Be careful when crossing snowfields — snow can be rotten and melts faster near creeks.
- Carry bear spray as a common practice and remember that bears are especially hungry and protective of food sources in the spring.
- Give wildlife extra space after this long winter.
- Ospreys are on nests and mating. Many birds have started the nesting season.
- Spring flowers are a great food sources for bears, members of the deer family, rodents, insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
- It’s almost morel time — a little bit of warmth, rain, and sun will make the mushrooms sprout.
Snow is limiting our choices but warm temperatures can quickly change the options. Bike paths are a great choice this time of year. Josie’s Ridge, near the town of Jackson, has some clear trails. It’s always fun to walk along the Snake River and look for eagles, osprey, pelicans, and much more. Make sure to be prepared for all types of weather — spring in Jackson Hole! Lots of changes to come. Enjoy all the beauty.