Close the Loop Series: Wildlife Habitat
In mid-August, a family of mountain lions sauntered down the trail revealing glowing eyes under a cloak of darkness. A month later, the unmistakable rump of a solitary black bear waddled off into the woods, using the adjacent public land as a safe habitat to his larger range.
These photos were taken at the Lion Mountain Trailhead, the closest trailhead that sees the lion’s share of recreational use (pun intended). An infrared trail counter at Lion Mountain tallied 43,873 visits from July 2016 to July 2017. Animals are incredibly smart and adaptive, and these photos clearly show that wildlife continues to use these heavily used recreation areas. In the last 8 years since the WT at Lion Mountain was constructed, we have had plenty of bear sightings and deer predation with no wildlife conflicts.
Aren’t these photos amazing?! It’s inspiring to see this wildlife thriving on our local public lands.
The permanency of the 1,520 acres surrounding Lion Mountain, Skyles, and the Beaver Lakes area provides wildlife a guaranteed, protected landscape for prime habitat and seasonal migrations. Instead of residential development potentially blocking wildlife movement, bears, lions, and a variety of other species will continue to use this same nighttime landscape for generations to come.
Ultimately, we seek permanent protection surrounding the entire trail network surrounding Whitefish Lake. Currently, Swift Creek, Lupfer, and Spencer Mountain are licensed only for 10 years under agreements with the DNRC. The process of securing and buying permanent recreation easements similar to Beaver Lakes will take hard work, ingenuity, and overwhelming community support. Conservation is at the core of our Close the Loop project, so let’s protect these same opportunities for future generations of humans and animals alike.
*Carry bear spray and hike in groups. All sections of the Whitefish Trail are home to wildlife.*