Personal tools
You are here: Home News Scat! Our blog Scratch pad fever
Document Actions
  • Email this page
  • Print this
  • Bookmark and Share

Scratch pad fever

Posted by mmillay at Feb 08, 2013 12:35 PM |

Wildlife monitoring volunteer and former Conservation Northwest staffer Crystal Gartner is leading one of several teams out monitoring for Canada lynx in the Kettle Range and Selkirk Mountains of northeastern Washington this winter.

Scratch pad fever

Crystal is leading a volunteer team in the Kettles to monitor following several lynx sightings. You can help monitor wildlife, too, by sponsoring a team like Crystal's.

Wildlife monitoring volunteer and former Conservation Northwest staff member Crystal Gartner is leading one of several teams out monitoring for Canada lynx in the Kettle Range and Selkirk Mountains of northeastern Washington this winter.

Being part of the wildlife monitoring team allows her to learn new skills and experience wildlife like never before. “[Wildlife monitoring] combines three of my favorite things: wild areas, wildlife that really need our help, and practicing useful new skills,” said Crystal.

Over the next several weeks, Crystal and other volunteers are following up on several recent sightings of lynx in the Kettles by installing cameras near Sherman Pass. In addition to motion-triggered remote cameras, they will install scratch pads (basically bits of scented carpet with harmless wire brushes in them) to gather hairs for DNA analysis of lynx. Lynx are currently listed as a threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who need to know how they are doing in our state.

Winter woes got you down? Volunteer for Conservation Northwest’s winter wildlife monitoring season. See last season's report, too.

While lynx were once abundant in northeast Washington, their numbers have declined in recent decades because of over-trapping and habitat loss. Lynx are considered a boreal species, and these wild cats are specially adapted to the deep snows of northern forests. Their massive paws act as snowshoes, keeping them afloat in deep snow while in pursuit of their preferred food, the snowshoe hare. Washington represents an important lower extent of their North American range.

But it isn't just about the target species like lynx, for most volunteers. Being in the field brings glimpses of other wildlife. A recent trip to the lynx monitoring stations revealed a small but important species, the three-toed woodpecker, an indicator species. Setting up the cameras gives volunteers the chance to collect useful data from pictures and images, but also the opportunity to see many rare animals first hand.

“Last fall was the first time I saw a mother black bear and cub together in the wild. My partner and I watched quietly from a respectful distance upwind as the sow and her cub looked for food by a small lake.”

Lively up for lynx - sponsor a monitoring team!

Our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project organizes volunteers to act as citizen scientists for rare carnivore species, like lynx and wolverines, helping researchers better understand their distribution and presence in the Kettle Range and northeastern Washington.

To get the perfect camera shot, volunteers mount cameras several feet from the ground on nice sturdy, north-facing trees in shaded locations, building up a backdrop across from the camera that can’t be seen through. Marking the camera position and route with flags and a GPS unit is also important for finding the cameras again!

In northeast Washington, we are also monitoring for wolverines near the Canadian border in the “Wedge” near where a wolverine was caught on video by a remote camera last winter and a grizzly bear was captured on film by BC biologists. This wild habitat is favored by wildlife.

Canada lynx are truly fascinating critters, which we learn more about every year through our winter monitoring program and the help of great teams like Crystal's. You can keep this important work going by adopting a monitoring team! Sponsor donations help cover field mileage and fund cameras and specialized supplies.

Enjoy more photos from this lynx camera install (and learn how pie tins are very important tools) on our Facebook page.

Document Actions
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy