On Monday night, September 23, the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition held an inauguration of its new Wandering Wildlife Society. Thanks to the support from the Hazeltons at Estes Park News and the Ridgeline Hotel, the event was a huge success with our numbers exceeding capacity. The Ridgeline sprang into action, bringing additional chairs, accommodating everyone. Thank you, Ridgeline!
With drinks and hors d’oeuvres in hand, attendees visited with those in our Wildlife Network: Ann Schonlau of the Bear Task Force, Scott Rashid of the Colorado Avian Research and Rehabilitation Institute, Kathleen Spencer of Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Nick Mollé of Nick Molle Productions, Chase Rylands of Colorado Parks & Wildlife, and Kenzie Schmitt of the Estes Valley Land Trust. Each brought fascinating artifacts and information about species or interests they represent.
Three speakers highlighted the evening. Nick Molle, Emmy-nominated local filmmaker whose films appear on PBS, showed clips from his most recent film, “The Nature of the Beasts.” His empathy for wild ones and concern about human’s impact on them were woven throughout the film, making us realize that we as caretakers of the land must learn to leave a very light footprint--in the national park, and in our personal environments as well.
The other speakers echoed that message. Koren Nydick, Ecologist and Chief of Resource Stewardship with Rocky Mountain National Park, presented scientific data resulting from ongoing research in the park, from elk and moose migrations to beavers’ potential benefits to a healthy water table. She showed historic photos of how vegetation is changing over time, and urged all of us to take heed, learn more and educate others. The environment is changing, and we humans continue to play a significant role in the unfolding drama.
Chase Rylands, District Wildlife Manager of Colorado Parks & Wildlife, taught us lessons about wildlife that we who live among them should know. Do not train bears to break into your cars or homes by leaving doors unlocked, especially when sweet smells may emanate. Do not feed wild animals because they learn they don’t have to hunt but can rely instead on garbage and bird feeders--and kitchens.
Chase became one of us in the Wandering Wildlife Society when he became our “bear,” thanks to the WWS co-founder Frank Theis who loaned him his bear head. Frank is one of our two Board Members of the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition who greets participants in their critter suits. He was not alone, but was accompanied by his beaver friend and fellow board member, Jay Blackwood. Thank you to Mr. Beaver and Mr. Bear.
The Wandering Wildlife Society is off to a good start. To those who attended our fascinating inauguration, we thank you for joining us as caretakers of the wildlife habitat we all share. To those who may want to learn more, please join us for our monthly Wildlife Talks or visit our website at www.WanderingWildlifeSociety.org to learn more about how to join!