Published in Transactions of the Western Section of the Wildlife Society, Volume 37, January 1, 2001, pages 8-15.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author John D. Perrine was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Visitors and employees in national parks may observe species of interest to wildlife biologists and resource managers. These sightings are useful to researchers and managers only if the data can be efficiently acquired, stored and retrieved for analysis.· We identified several problems in the wildlife sightings reporting system at Lassen Volcanic National Park, including a confusing array of reporting forms; incomplete contact information for the reporter; insufficient reporting of the animal's description, behavior and location; and a cumbersome data entry and retrieval system. We developed a new system to correct these problems. A single reporting form corrects the aforementioned data gaps and includes a park map so the reporter can mark the approximate location of the sighting. Resource Management staff use a clear overlay with a numbered 1 mP grid to assign a location code for each sighting. This code and the report information are entered into a Microsoft Access database. Queries can be conducted for individual species and the location codes can be used to create sighting-distribution maps. The new system, in place since July 1999, has proven easier to implement and to query and therefore more useful than the previous system. A total of 553 sighting reports was received in 1999 and 2000, representing 720 animals of 39 species. These reports reflect several important biases inherent to wildlife sighting reporting data.