Beware the lynx and hare |

Beware the lynx and hare

Alex Miller

VAIL One need not be racing a snowmobile through the woods to disrupt wildlife. Skiers and snowboarders are being asked to respect wildlife closures in areas accessible from Vail Mountain to protect snowshoe hare and lynx habitat this winter.The areas are all outside the ski area boundaries and include Commando Bowl, Mushroom Bowl, Benchmark Bowl, the top of the ridge between Pete’s and Skyline Express Lifts and the area immediately west of Champagne Glade in Earl’s Bowl. “Snowshoe hares are the preferred prey of the Canada Lynx, so by protecting habitat for the hares, we are providing a food source for lynx,” said Forest Service Ranger Don Dressler. Wildlife management areas were developed to provide habitat for snowshoe hares with minimal disturbance from skier traffic. Studies have shown that areas where skiers have intruded have drastically fewer hares than undisturbed areas.”Compliance has been quite low,” Dressler said, adding that this year he hopes to work closely with Vail Mountain to get the word out. The ski company has produced 50 new signs to alert people to the closures, he said. “We want to let people know the closures are there and why they’re there,” he said. “We’re asking people to respect the boundaries so hopefully we can get some good snowshoe hare (populations).”While the closures will remain voluntary for now, Dressler said that could change.”If we don’t get cooperation, we may need to go mandatory closures,” he said.Vail, Colorado

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