We’ll have two full days after a business trip in Boise, on July 3 and 4. Is it still worth looking for any of the local ground squirrels (Idaho, Merriam’s, or Piute) this late in the year? If so, we’d probably spend one day on these and one day at visiting the Silver Creek Preserve, unless anyone has better suggestions. Thanks very much — Brian Keelan
Piute Ground Squirrels will definitely be active. Idaho ground squirrels were active a couple weeks ago, but I’m thinking with this heat we’ve had they will have called it a year and gone back to bed. If I get a chance to run up to Emmett before the 3rd, I’ll check on the Idaho Ground Squirrels and let you know. Matt’s suggestion about the Owyhees is a great one.
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I live in Boise. I will have just returned from a trip so am not sure I will be able to join you but drop me an email at m_miller @ tnc.org
I have not been out ground squirrel spotting lately but it is quite hot right now so I suspect most will be underground. You may be able to see some Columbia ground squirrels en route to Silver Creek Preserve. There may also be some of the other species out and about, but it is right on the edge of when they will go underground.
Silver Creek is great. It is a 2.5 hour drive from Boise. You take I-84 to the Fairfield/Mountain Home exit, then take Hwy 20 all the way to Silver Creek. Hwy 20 is nice — scenic with some nice mammal possibilities.
It is the peak fly fishing season at Silver Creek which means a lot of visitors and that can influence mammal activity. Check the meadows in the evening for elk and moose.
Another option is to travel the Owyhee Backcountry Byway. You get on this road near Grand View, Idaho. It is also known as Mud Flat Road. It is mostly gravel but in good condition. It is VERY remote. But also very good for mammals.
Belding’s ground squirrels may still be out in the higher elevation areas. Black-tailed jackrabbits are common in the low sagebrush flats — drive it very early in the morning. White-tailed jackrabbits are in the high elevation areas but you will either have to hike or spotlight.
I have seen some really great stuff along there, including pygmy rabbit — I can give specific locations to a great pygmy rabbit spot in email. Other mammals include mule deer, pronghorn, Ord’s kangaroo rat (common at night), coyote, least chipmunk, long-tailed weasel, badger, bobcat, mountain cottontail.
What species are you seeking? There is also good mammal watching right around Boise on the Boise Greenbelt, particularly the east end — but a lot of these will be species you can see elsewhere in North America.
Let me know any questions you have.