Info and Position Description

Volunteer Assistant: Wolverine Hair Trap Survey, Winter 2012-13


Parks Canada, the Miistakis Institute and WTI-Montana State University are leading a large, cooperative effort to survey wolverines using non-invasive genetic sampling to estimate their occurrence, distribution and effect of transportation corridors on population genetics in Banff and Yoho National Parks. The project is conducting repeated surveys of wolverine hair traps to collect hair samples for species identification and genotyping. Volunteer Assistants are needed from early January to mid-April 2013.

Study area: The approximately 6000 km2 study area is diverse, ranging from remote, rugged mountainous areas around the Continental Divide to more moderate terrain conditions on the periphery of the study area.  Surveys will take place nearly entirely within the national park lands, with few occurring on Crown lands in B.C.


  • Duties include assisting researchers installing and checking wolverine hair traps during winter.
  • Survey work will be conducted in backcountry and front-country locations. Most of the work will involve skiing in difficult terrain. Some backcountry surveys will require overnight travel.
  • Hair traps will also be installed in front-country locations that are a shorter distance from roads and do not require overnight travel.
  • Volunteers will be assigned to work with an experienced field researcher.
  • As part of a non-invasive survey, teams of two people (lead + assistant) will be installing hair traps during the first month (mid-Dec to mid-Jan), followed by repeat visits each month to collect hair from the designated sampling sites. Hair traps will be checked for the final time and taken down the last month (mid-March-early April).


  • Excellent physical condition.
  • Extensive winter backcountry and wilderness travel experience.
  • Ability to work safely in remote areas under potentially extreme conditions, including inclement weather, traveling in deep snow and rugged terrain with a 40+ pound backpack.
  • Willing to carry a heavy backpack with supplies, hair trap equipment and occasionally a 20-30 lb frozen beaver carcass.
  • Willing to work long hours, starting before dawn and returning occasionally after dark.
  • Ability to follow scientific protocols.
  • Willingness to be flexible and maintain a positive attitude despite challenging conditions.
  • Have current Avalanche Safety Training (AST) Level 1 or recognized equivalent certification.
  • Able to commit to at least one outing per month with a Lead.
  • Must have, or be willing to get, all your own backcountry travel gear and equipment.


Volunteers will gain experience in the following:

  • Working on a large-scale, multi-year, multi-partner research project on an enigmatic species of the Canadian Rocky Mountains using novel noninvasive research methods.
  • Developing valuable skills including: ecological field research techniques, wildlife species track recognition, data collection and storage, and safe winter backcountry travel.
  • Contributing to the conservation and management of one of the least understood mammals in North America.
  • Parks Canada may provide a Beacon Refresher Course for those who have Avalanche Safety Training that may be out of date. Project training will be provided before the outings and in the field.

Please note, we are unable to provide a stipend or housing for volunteers. Group project gear and group food for overnight trips will be provided by the project.

If interested and you meet the requirements above, please fill out the Wolverine Project Volunteer Assistant Application Form. An additional screening procedure will take place in the form of a personal interview. If you have any questions, please contact us at:


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