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Wolverine week

Posted by bchristensen at Mar 22, 2012 12:30 AM |

[VIDEO] Wolverines seem to be everywhere... in our inboxes and on YouTube, in the Cascades and the Colville National Forest. It's a great week for the wild!

Wolverine week

Meet a new gulo gulo star in the North Cascades Wolverine Study, which tracks wolverines on both sides of the border. A unique camera setup, with a dangling hunk of roadkill, allows researchers to see the identifying "blaze" on an animal's chest.

4/27 update: Our remote cameras document a wolverine farther south than current researchers have ever recorded!

 

I am always pretty excited when Jen sends me the latest update from a study in the North Cascades, led by USFS researcher Keith Aubry. It's usually filled with great photos and a telemetry map that inspires awe in the raw traveling power of its subject: the wolverine.

For many years, Aubry and others have been documenting the elusive wolverine in the Cascades, to better understand their distribution, use of habitat, and response to climate change.

This year, they placed burly box traps monitored with satellite transmitters, ingenious remote camera setups, and hair-snag stations in the Cascades, from south of Route 20 into southern BC (map). 

 

 

Rocky the wolverineThis update checks back in with Rocky (at left), who is practically becoming a fixture in the study, having been captured during five of the study years since 2006. This 32 lb male is international; his travels back and forth over the Canadian border have previously been highlighted in the blog Do wolverines need a passport. He's old for a wolverine, too--at least 8 years old.

They also trapped two other animals from previous years: Xena, a female who was last captured in 2007 and Mallory (below right), first collared last year. Xena boasts one of the largest ranges ever recorded: 760 square miles! Time and a new collar will tell if she beats that record this year. Both females weighed in around 20 pounds.

Mallory the wolverineThey found a few new wolverines this year, too. Several photos  of a new wolverine were snapped in a BC camera trap (above right). Another--a suspected male--was trapped in WA, but it didn't respond to the immobilization drugs, so couldn't be collared. They collected some hair for analysis and sent him on his way. Then, on Leap Day, they captured and collared a new young female in BC, nicknaming her Kendyl.

I look forward to seeing the travels of all these wolverines--new and old--when the next report is released with collar telemetry data and hopefully more photos!


Farther afield for Gulo gulo

As if that weren't enough wolverine news, a video from Derrick lit up my inbox next. In it, a wolverine loped across a snowy scene in the Colville National Forest, several miles south of the BC border. The WDFW set up a camera to monitor wolf reports in the area, and the wolverine cameo was a surprise! The video description says, "This is a very exciting new distribution record for Washington, which extends their current range considerably!"

Joe Scott, our international conservation director says, "They have such huge home ranges they likely get into lots of places that aren’t generally considered wolverine habitat per se," or at least they don't den there. The Cascades study above and others have show that wolverine habitat-- for dens and much of their movement-- relies on snow cover that lasts well into the Spring, as late as June.

After decades of poisoning and hunting, wolverines were thought  to have been mostly wiped out of the North Cascades, even as recently as twenty years ago. This study, photos, and video not only teach us more about wolverines on our landscape, they give us hope of a wilder Northwest!

[Smithsonian Magazine feature on the study] [Adopt a volunteer team in our own wildlife monitoring]

Photos courtesy North Cascades Wolverine Study. Video, WDFW

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Wolverine Photographed on Mt Adams

Posted by Rachel Haymon at May 01, 2012 11:30 PM
Hi, I was interested in the wolverine study.Do you know about the wolverine that was photographed on Mt Adams in 2010 (I think) during a study called the Cascade Carnivore Project?
http://cascadescarnivoreproject.blogspot.com/

yup

Posted by Barbara Christensen at May 01, 2012 11:33 PM
yup! We blogged about it: http://www.conservationnw.org/[…]/

If all our work to connect habitat and build wildlife bridges keeps succeeding, eventually that wolverine and the newest one discovered near Stevens Pass may meet :)

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