During the 2010/11 winter, we will carry out a large-scale survey for wolverine in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. We seek to unite the energy and passion of the skier, climber and conservationist to protect wilderness ecosystems. We need your help on long and short ski trips to survey for wolverine tracks and setup hair trap sites. If you are interested, please read the volunteer info here and then sign up here.
More information will be available here as we get ready to start survey work in early January 2011. Don’t worry we will send out an update once we have everything planned and setup. Why volunteer? Well, it will be really fun, here are some photos from last winter’s pilot study. There will be some very hard work involved getting the hair trap sites set up which consist of a dead beaver, barb wire, and a motion activated camera! Who would want to miss out on a ski trip like that!
The results from the survey will examine how roads such as the bustling Trans Canada and Highway 93 affect wolverine movement and gene flow. Because of their extensive movements and low densities, hair trap surveys need to be conducted over a large area and within some of the most remote habitats of the mountain parks. The traps consist of barbed-wire wrapped around a tree where a whole beaver carcass is secured to entice the animal to climb! Last March, we set up hair traps at six sites to learn whether wolverines would approach the traps, and if they would leave hair. Each site had a remote, infrared-operated camera to help identify the visitors. After one month, three of the six sites captured wolverine on camera, with three sites netting 35 hair samples. At one site, we observed two wolverines.
Based on those results we are implementing a study that spans over 5000 sq. km covering parts of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks and spills into the Columbia Trench. It is a huge area and we need your help. This is the first winter of collecting this data, which also includes simple observations on wolverine occurrence (sightings and track observations). So, please bear with us as we develop this website and a usable mechanism to involve you. We thank you for your interest in participating in this project! It is going to be a great winter and we look forward to meeting you!
Lead researcher for Wolverine Watch Dr. Tony Clevenger has a PhD in wildlife ecology, and has been conducting wildlife research in the Mountain Parks since 1996. This project is part of a five-year partnership between Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute, Miistakis Institute for the Rockies and Parks Canada, studying the impacts of the TCH wildlife crossings.