FIELD METHOD EFFICACY TO DETECT MEDIUM AND LARGE MAMMAL PRESENCE NEAR ROADWAYS AT VAIL PASS, COLORADO
Highways and interstates cause habitat fragmentation and loss, with considerable impacts to wildlife. Interstate 70 is a major transportation route cutting through one of the only remaining forested connections for wildlife moving through the southern Rockies. To alleviate its potential barrier effect, the Colorado Department of Transportation is proposing to build a wildlife bridge on I-70 just west of Vail Pass. This study is aimed at testing which field techniques are most effective at documenting species presence in order to develop an appropriate long term monitoring strategy for this area. Four sampling methods are compared (track transect surveys, scat transect surveys, hair snares, and remotely-triggered camera surveys) during a baited and unbaited study session on Shrine Pass Road near I-70. Data from the baited sessions was used to determine how well each method documents species presence based on time, money and accuracy of identification. In addition, data from the baited session was compared to data from the unbaited session to see if there is any benefit to using a lure. I conclude that no method is free from bias and care should be taken to develop the most robust study design. Though cameras tend to detect the greatest degree of species richness, they frequently fail to detect several species. The effectiveness of cameras can largely be increased by supplementing them with other monitoring techniques. Considering budget and time restraints, I recommend using snow tracking in the winter months, and if at all feasible, scat surveys throughout the year.
Advisor:Len Broberg; Vicki Watson; Paul Wilson
School:The University of Montana
School Location:USA - Montana
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:08/07/2008