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It's a girl! Meet wolverine Peg

Posted by Jen Watkins at Jun 27, 2012 05:34 PM |

On April 1 this year (no fooling) our remote cameras captured images of a wolverine outside of Leavenworth. This evidence of wolverine presence south of Highway 2 is meaningful - and exciting! - on its own. But now we know more. Newest of our remote camera captures, Cascades wolverine Peg is descendent of no wolverine yet recorded. Conservation Northwest's Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Program has discovered a unique wolverine in the Cascades! Monitoring volunteer for the camera station, Jim Clark, was granted naming rights, and Jim chose to name her Peg, after Peg Stark who helped to establish and run the Scottish High Camp.

It's a girl! Meet wolverine Peg

Peg, a newly identified female wolverine.

On April 1, 2012, (no fooling) our remote cameras captured photos of a wolverine in the Chiwaukum Mountains outside of Leavenworth. Evidence of wolverine presence south of Highway 2 is meaningful - and exciting! - on its own. But now we know more.

The wolverine is a girl; she has not been recorded in the Cascades before this; and she is no descendent of any wolverine recorded in the Cascades to date.

Introducing, Peg, our newly confirmed female Cascades' wolverine! We have discovered a unique wolverine in the Cascades.

The primary volunteer who installed and maintained the remote camera station, Jim Clark, was granted naming rights, and Jim chose to name her Peg, after Peg Stark who helped to establish and run the Scottish High Camp near our camera station. Don and Chris, the current owners of the Scottish Lakes High Camp, helped transport Jim for his camera work and have been keeping close tabs on the news we learn from these cameras.

Samples of hair left behind at our camera station were sent to a lab by the PNW Research Station not only concluded that "our" wolverine was a she. The DNA tests also confirmed that Peg is halotype C.

So what? Halotypes are a part of the DNA that can tell us a bit about the evolutionary history of the animal. All of the wolverines recorded in the North Cascades to date are halotype C. This halotype does not occur in the Rocky Mountains, where extensive genetic research has occurred on their wolverine populations. Because of this, researchers believe that our Cascades' wolverine population comes from the north not the east, and that our Washington Cascades' population is genetically unique from other US wolverine populations.

Volunteers with our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project continue to maintain this camera station in hopes of learning more about Peg and wolverine presence in the area.

"Since this animal is not a male (which tend to wander and show up in odd places), these results suggest that other wolverines (especially males) may be present in the vicinity, because the breeding season is either now or is quickly approaching [copulation probably occurs sometime between May and August]," said Keith Aubry, PNW research station wolverine expert and Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Program advisory council member. "Additional survey work at these sites is definitely warranted."

Want to know you contributed? Adopt a monitoring team! And stay tuned to see what our volunteers continue to learn in the field this year!

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