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Wildlife monitoring

Through remote cameras and winter snow tracking our volunteer force helps document the presence and range of rare carnivores from wolf to lynx around Washington from the Cascades to the Kettle River Range.

Lynx, Loomis Forest, remote camera, 2000
Lynx, Loomis Forest, remote camera, 2000

Documenting animals in the wild

Many thanks to our generous project funders, including Sustainable Path. Thanks too to those who've adopted a team! Adopt a camera team.

Our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project volunteers are on the front lines, tracking wildlife where state and federal agencies don’t have the resources to go, from the Washington Cascades to the Kettle Crest to British Columbia.

Confirming the presence of rare carnivores and other animals informs land management decisions upon which our wildlife depend. It also helps guide our conservation programs and priorities, and those of state and federal agencies. And it's people like our citizen monitors, with boots on the ground as citizen scientists, gathering the essential data and photos.

The landscape of monitoring

Currently, citizen wildlife monitors work around the Northwest:

In the Cascades, we run the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, our largest program in collaboration with Wilderness Awareness School and I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition. We monitor in remote habitats from the North Cascades to the Paysaten Wilderness to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and on the lands near Interstate 90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass where the highway is being updated to include wildlife crossing structures.

Monitoring volunteers in the field, 2012
Monitoring volunteers in the field, 2012

In northeast Washington on the Colville National Forest and the Rossland Range in British Columbia to record the presence of lynx, wolves and more in the Kettle River Range and other areas of the Columbia Highlands.

Wildlife Monitoring Background

Since 2001, Conservation Northwest has conducted remote camera monitoring, and since 2006, snow tracking surveys, in wild areas in Washington for the presence of wild and often little-seen animals of the Northwest, including lynx, wolverine, American marten, wolf, and grizzly bear. 

Working in concert with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the project began as the Rare Carnivore Remote Camera Project.  It has evolved to a statewide program in partnership with federal and state agencies, independent researchers, and other non-profits.  We engage hundreds of volunteers annually to conduct wildlife monitoring throughout Washington and in transboundary habitats in British Columbia.

Like our citizen science? Adopt a camera team.
Cascades wolverine
Cascades wolverine

Together we have documented rare carnivores in the roadless forests of the North Cascades, near Interstate 90, in the Kettle River Range and Selkirk Mountains, and in B.C.s Rossland Range and Columbia Mountains. All the while coordinating with state, tribal and federal agency biologists.

In 2008, our volunteer-operated cameras documented the first wild wolf pups born in Washington, bringing to light the natural return of wolves to Washington for the first time in nearly 80 years. In 2011, our teams documented a new pack in the Teanaway, just 90 miles east of Seattle.

In 2012, we documented the recovery of wolverines east of Stevens Pass near Leavenworth.

Spring through fall, we place motion-triggered remote cameras in wild locations to capture photos and document wildlife presence. And in winter, we continue with a more limited set of cameras in the snow while finding and following animal tracks to document wildlife travel patterns in the I-90 corridor.

Visit our Flickr site for recent remote camera photos

To volunteer, contact Alison Huyett. Get on our volunteer email list so that you can be the first to learn of our next field opportunity.  If you are an existing volunteer, visit our Volunteer Resource Page to get the information you need for the season.

Reporting results

The annual cycle of monitoring is divided into two seasons: Spring-fall and Winter. We report on results at the end of each of these seasons. Sets of images from each season are available on our Flickr page.

"Being a part of the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project has been an incredible experience and I'm proud to be a part of it. I'm really honored to have a wolverine named after me. To learn that four wolverines have now been identified is really awesome! It is amazing what the wildlife biologists can discover through the camera photos and DNA hair snags and how it fits into the larger picture. It's also very rewarding to know that the effort to create and maintain these camera sites is important and really does make a difference."- Jim (Volunteer remote camera team leader)

We also support 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

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