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Watching for wolves

Posted by bchristensen at Jul 09, 2008 01:28 PM |

Are you excited to hear the wild howl of wolves in Washington again? A Conservation Northwest remote camera has captured an image of what may be a wild wolf living in the Chelan-Sawtooth Mountains. Biologists are in the process of confirming whether or not a breeding pair has settled in the area.

Watching for wolves

True to our science-based natures, we have sent our remote camera photo and physical evidence off to biologists for DNA testing and verification.

When one of our remote cameras snapped a photo of what could quite possibly be a wolf in the Methow, we were ready to burst with excitement. Yet we held off announcing news of the image to wait for confirmation from wildlife biologists, because the image could have been of a hybrid, and, well, of such a momentous occasion you want to be sure.  Then a local rancher whose home camera also captured the possible wolf, released his photographs without waiting for the biologists' confirmation. So now, here we go….

Wildlife monitoring using remote cameras is not a ”name that animal in one glance” kind of game. Biologists use known data about wildlife-habitat associations and critical landscapes to carefully choose camera locations, to plan a monitoring schedule, and to train people--in our case some amazing volunteers--to safely and effectively attract animals to the camera lens. Photos also need to be backed up by physical evidence--hair, tracks, scat--that helps biologists identify species. The TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has nothing on this meticulous evidence collection!

This year our citizen wildlife monitoring project is helping WA Department of Fish and Wildlife document rare species in several places in WA, as well as being an important program for the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition. Over the many years of our remote camera monitoring, we have seen some pretty amazing animals just doing what they do in the wild. Have a look at our slideshow for some of our best pics.

So the picture from the Methow and other evidence (scat!) were passed along to wildlife biologists for identification. We look forward to hopefully sharing with you as soon as we can that it was in fact a wolf wandering through territory that hasn't seen wolves in far too long.
We'll keep you up to date here, in enews, facebook, myspace, etc, etc. So many ways to share great news!

Are you excited to hear the wild howl of wolves in Washington again?

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