The Wellsville Mountains of northern Utah is where HWI essentially began. HWI founder Steve Hoffman and colleague Wayne Potts discovered the Wellsville site in 1976 and conducted seasonal counts there from 1977 through 1979. Steve then turned his attention to the Goshute Mountains in Nevada and ceased counting in the Wellsvilles until 1987 when HWI re-initiated annual counts at the site. Due to funding restrictions and the logistical challenges of accessing the site for both counters and visitors, we stopped operations at the site in 2009.
Historical annual counts at Wellsville Mountains typically ranged between 2,400-5,600 migrants of up to 17 species. The site monitored long-term trends in populations of raptors that migrate along the Wasatch Range in Utah, which lies along a transition zone between the Intermountain and Rocky Mountain regional flyways. The information gathered at this site and throughout our network enables us to better understand the life histories, ecology, status, and conservation needs of raptor populations in North America. Because raptors are top-level predators, occupy large home ranges, inhabit most ecosystems, and are sensitive to environmental contamination and other human disturbances, they serve as important biological indicators of ecosystem health. Moreover, due to the remoteness and widespread distribution of most raptor populations, migration counts likely represent the most cost-effective and efficient method for monitoring the regional status and trends of multiple raptor species.
HWI partners with Bridgerland Audubon in hosting occasional field trips up to the historic Wellsville Mountains site during the fall for the stunning panoramic views and, of course, for the hawkwatching!