A wildlife awareness project is born at Eagle Ranch

Local wildlife and land managers are urging residents to stay away from wildlife this time of year.
Eagle County Open Space / Courtesy Photo

The Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance are partnering with 970 Design to launch an Eagle-wide educational initiative aimed at encouraging more responsible coexistence between residents, visitors and wildlife.

Hardscrabble Trails Coalition Secretary Nicole Asselin said the Eagle Ranch Wildlife Committee funded $40,000 for an education campaign by the two trail-focused nonprofits. Just like the rest of the valley, the Eagle Ranch Golf Course sees several occurrences of poorly behaved people who irresponsibly exist near wildlife. Asselin said an organized, positive peer pressure campaign could be effective in changing community behavior — and it will all start at Eagle.

“At Eagle, we’re in such a unique place where we co-exist with wildlife, so there’s a need for a much larger, much more expansive campaign,” Asselin said in the Dec. 6 Eagle Open Space and Recreation Advisory. . Committee meeting.

Local firm 970 Design will assist the education campaign, bringing an engaging and playful element that aims to reach everyone. Asselin said 970 Design successfully launched a COVID-19 campaign with a positive peer pressure model that has proven effective in changing community attitudes.

“It was very positive; it was clear and we very quickly started to see the shift towards compliance with that,” Asselin said. “You know, at the time, thinking that everyone was hiding was such a foreign policy, it was the right thing to do, but there was also a lot of hesitation. So I think there’s a lot of parallels between this campaign, you know, and it’s the right thing to do to leash the dog.

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So whether it’s leashing their dog, keeping their distance from wildlife, or staying off the trails at night, Asselin said everyone can do their fair share to be better neighbors. local wildlife.

“It won’t be marked specifically for trails, it won’t be recreational-oriented,” Asselin said. “It’s an overview of coexistence with wildlife and the right thing to do.”

To positively reinforce this message, the initiative will not only focus on educational and engaging designs created by 970 Designs, but it will also encourage positive interactions that reinforce responsible behaviors.

A mule deer jumps over a fence at Eagle Ranch in November.
Ben Roof / For the Vail Daily

Inspired by former Eagle Police Chief Joey Staufer, who gave prompts when he saw people walking dogs on leashes, volunteers from the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance s will strive to encourage responsible co-existence with wildlife.

“It just creates an opportunity for that positivity and that community support, which is really at the heart of the peer pressure aspect,” Asselin said.

The $40,000 from the Eagle Ranch wildlife committee “gets us there,” Asselin said of the campaign’s implementation. However, in hopes of an even greater success, the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance plan to seek an additional $20,000 in funding from Eagle. Of these funds, $10,000 will be budgeted for a citywide online media campaign, and the remaining $10,000 will be allocated to two direct mailers sent to each Eagle resident.

“When I look at direct mail, when I look at media, I think one of the most valuable things they bring is probably the opportunity for measured engagement,” Asselin said.

The citywide education campaign should also be measured in several other ways, including setting aside money for more trail cameras to more accurately track compliance with leashes and nighttime recreation.

In addition to creating trackable engagement, Asselin said shippers and media projects will be effective in reaching those who may not have been contacted before about how to live responsibly among wildlife.

Additionally, the campaign will include English and Spanish translations for many models, Asselin explained.

“It takes a lot of time and resources to run this type of campaign and I’m really thrilled that we have the seed funding to establish this foundation,” Asselin said.

With initial funding coming from Eagle Ranch’s wildlife committee, Asselin said the education initiative will be uniquely Eagle-focused when it’s established. However, while awaiting success, she explained that the campaign has the potential to take off on a larger scale.

“You can really see it growing and evolving based on the efficiency we have and the support we have,” Asselin said.

970 Design has committed to launching the education campaign on February 6, so regardless of whether the campaign receives additional funding from Eagle, educational signage will begin to appear around Eagle businesses and further progress will be made. by the Hardscrabble Trails Coalition and the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance to expand the reach of wildlife stewardship education.

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