We are conducting research to better understand the effects of human activity on wolverine distribution, connectivity and gene flow in the Canadian portion of the Crown of the Continent (COTC) ecosystem and to use the results to inform public and private land management that incorporate the needs of this elusive carnivore.
COTC is a 10 million acre (4 million hectare) ecosystem centered about Glacier (US) and Waterton Lakes (Canada) National Parks on the US-Canada border and encompasses portions of the state of Montana and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia (BC). It is celebrated for its intact montane habitats that support a full assemblage of native carnivores. It is one of only two remaining transboundary zones where wolverines, grizzly bears, lynx, wolves, and other wildlife can move between Canada and the US. Our research project is focused on the Canadian side of COTC, the least understood lands that are home to wolverine.
Our project is undertaking the crucial research required to provide science-based information to agency decision-makers, landowners, natural resource companies, and First Nations so that the needs of wolverine are incorporated into land use plans, management plans, highway mitigation and other projects.
To succeed, we work collaboratively with agency biologists, local organizations, non-profit conservation groups, and volunteer citizen-scientists to gather and disseminate the project's information.
The project educates and engages communities, while endeavouring to build citizen support for conserving the integrity of large landscapes, their ecological processes (particularly movement and habitat connectivity), and solutions that protect wildlife in the working landscapes of the study area.
Wolverine Watch (WW) began in 2010 with seed funding from the Alpine Club of Canada. WW is a citizen-science based approach to contribute information on wolverine in the Canadian Rockies and beyond, increase awareness regarding their status, and recruit volunteers to assist with large-scale wolverine surveys during winter.
While alpine climbing or ski touring, many have been inspired by the path of wolverine tracks. Like us, they seem to seek out aesthetic lines and retreat to locations that can only be defined as wild.
"We noticed, going straight up the fall line, the fresh tracks of an animal perhaps the size of a dog. We could not imagine what sort of creature would venture to this place so far from vegetation. At the bench our tracks diverged, the animal apparently determined to go "straight up"."
-W. Tupper, Canadian Alpine Journal 1962
While traveling in the high country (or anywhere for that matter), we would like to hear from any of you if you do see a wolverine, wolverine sign (tracks, scats), or what you might think was a wolverine sign. We are also interested in any sightings you've had in the past. While our current research focuses on the Canadian Rocky Mountains, we would like to hear about your wolverine sightings from anywhere in Western Canada. Your input will contribute to expanding our knowledge about this enigmatic species.
Winter fieldwork is challenging. Summer fieldwork even more so! Managed to finally get to the last two sites near Meadow Creek, BC, last week…
This is Rolf, one of our four Wiegele wolverines! He is taking a well deserved rest after an evening spent climbing the tree and the run pole..
More photos of the first breeding female we identified (still collecting ideas for what to call her!). Female wolverine territories are exclusive..