Wildlife Monitoring

Documenting rare and recovering wildlife

Conservation Northwest leads the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP), organizing citizen-scientist volunteers to monitor and document wildlife using remote cameras where state and federal agencies don’t have the resources to go, from the Washington Cascades to the Kettle Crest and southern British Columbia.

Our staffers Chase and Laurel removing a wolverine remote camera station in the North Cascades. Photo: Kelly Smith/UBB

Now in its eleventh year, our Monitoring Project is one of the largest citizen-science efforts in North America. Working with Wilderness Awareness School and other partners, we harness the power of more than 100 volunteers each year to maintain dozens of remote camera sites in Washington and southern British Columbia, as well as to conduct winter snow-tracking in the Interstate 90 corridor near Snoqualmie Pass to inform wildlife crossing projects.

Confirming the presence of rare carnivores and other animals informs land management decisions upon which wildlife depend. It also helps guide our conservation programs and priorities, and those of state and federal agencies.

Disclaimer: All rights to photos acquired through the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project are reserved to Conservation Northwest. Photos are available for approved use with credit by request. Please contact: communications (at) conservationnw.org for questions regarding photo usage.

 

Scroll down to view or download field season reports. 
Our latest report is:

2017 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report

Wildlife monitoring news and links

A reintroduced fisher photographed at a wolverine run pole camera site near Mount Rainier in July 2017. Photo: Conservation Northwest

Powered by volunteers

Laurel Baum is the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Coordinator. David Moskowitz, a wildlife biologist, author and photographer, also helps lead and guide this program under contract with Conservation Northwest and Wilderness Awareness School. A team of Conservation Northwest program staff and state, federal, non-profit and independent scientific advisers also help guide and inform the project.

To become a volunteer, contact monitoring (at) conservationnw.org. Please note that because of tremendous interest in this program, new volunteer opportunities are limited at this time. 

Already a volunteer, intern or project adviser? Join our group on Facebook to share photos, trip reports, tips, news and more!

VIDEO: The Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project (2015)

Many thanks to our generous project funders, including the Norcliffe Foundation, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, an anonymous donor, The Spokane MountaineersSustainable Path and WDFW’s ALEA grants program

Media Coverage on our Wildlife Monitoring Project

Our main project objectives are:

Staff train volunteers on remote camera work and wildlife monitoring. Photo: Laurel Baum
  1. To engage and educate citizens about wildlife species and monitoring in critical habitat areas;
  2. To record wildlife presence in the I-90 corridor and along the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project in strategic locations and in core habitat through remote camera monitoring and snow tracking;
  3. To record the presence of rare and sensitive species that regional and national conservation efforts aim to recover including the fisher, gray wolf, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and wolverine;
  4. To facilitate the exchange of information about wildlife, including data from monitoring efforts, between public agencies, researchers, conservation organizations, and interested individuals.

Working across the Northwest

Our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project covers several geographic areas, adding to and strengthening the work of agencies, biologists, and other wildlife managers and researchers. We monitor in remote habitats from North Cascades National Park to the Pasayten Wilderness to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Pups from the Lookout Wolf Pack in the Methow Valley, first documented by the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project in 2008. Photo: Conservation Northwest

In collaboration with Wilderness Awareness School, in the Central Cascades project volunteers participate in winter snow tracking along I-90 and year-round remote camera monitoring to evaluate wildlife movement in areas near new wildlife crossings.

In the North Cascades, our volunteers monitor remote cameras looking for grizzly bears and wolverines. In Washington’s South Cascades, our efforts search for wolves, fishers and wolverines.

In northeast Washington and in southern British Columbia we work to record the presence of Canada lynx, wolves, and grizzly bears in the Kettle River Range, Selkirk Mountains, Rossland Range and other areas of the Columbia Highlands.

In British Columbia, we also collaborate with B.C. Parks and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission on the Citizen Science Wildlife Monitoring Program. Lead by B.C. Parks and modeled in part after our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, this program assists both local and international biologists and conservationists to better understand the current populations of target species through the monitoring of cameras in the remote wilderness of southern British Columbia and northern Washington state.

Reporting results

The annual cycle of monitoring is divided into two project sections: our annual remote camera field season and our Winter snowtracking season. We report on results at the end of each project season. Albums of images from each monitoring season are also available on our Flickr page.

Remote camera site protocols

We also administer I-90 Wildlife Watch, a project that asks motorists to report the wildlife they see from their car as they drive over Snoqualmie Pass from North Bend to Easton.  Annual reports from this project are available at www.i90wildlifewatch.org

Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project background

Since 2001, Conservation Northwest has conducted remote camera monitoring for rare and recovering wildlife. Working in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the project began as the Rare Carnivore Remote Camera Project. In 2006, we organized our efforts into the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project and later added winter snowtracking surveys around Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass, at the time dubbed the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, but later included under the umbrella of the larger project.

Volunteers learn snowtracking techniques from staff and advisers. Photo: Laurel Baum

Today, our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project works in coordination with various state, federal and tribal wildlife agencies, including WDFW, the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as independent researchers and biologists from other non-profits. The Project is now guided in-part through an Advisory Council made up of partners, government agency biologists, and professional researchers, allowing us to better coordinate with and add value to ongoing wildlife research and recovery efforts.. Our Advisory Council provides valuable input on our program; it also helps steer our yearly monitoring objectives and site locations.

This entire project wouldn’t be possible without our citizen-scientist volunteers. Throughout the season, volunteer field knowledge and experience help CWMP staff and the Advisory Council reassess each site based on data gathered during the season. Thanks to their presence on the ground in core habitat, our volunteers provide invaluable feedback on site locations as well as actual field conditions and habitat.

Wildlife monitoring highlights

In 2008, our volunteer-operated cameras documented the first wild wolf pups born in Washington in nearly 80 years in the Methow Valley, now called the Lookout Pack. In 2011, our teams documented a new wolf pack in the Teanaway, just 90 miles east of Seattle.

In 2012, we helped documented the recovery of wolverines north and east of Stevens Pass near Leavenworth. Our cameras continue to be an important part of inter-agency and inter-organizational efforts to monitor the return of wolverines to the Cascade Mountains.

In 2015 we captured the first images of a wolf documented between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. Later in 2015, our cameras photographed a second wolf, a collared member of the Teanaway Pack, in the same area.

A wolverine documented in a new area of the North Cascades north of Lake Wenatchee. Photo: CWMP / Conservation Northwest

In 2016, our project followed up on a report from a hiker and captured remote camera photos of a wolverine in a new area of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest north of Lake Wenatchee. The area had previously been a gap in confirmed wolverine-occupied territory between known wolverine ranges near Leavenworth and above Lake Chelan. We also documented new wolverines just easy of Stevens Pass, and another wolf near Leavenworth.

In 2016, shortly after fishers were reintroduced to the Cascade Mountains by Conservation Northwest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service, our remote cameras documented fishers east of Mount Rainier. This and other fisher documentations show these native animals are surviving and expanding their range!

Thanks to all the volunteers, donors, advisers, and partners who’ve made this program a success!