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Marathon | Highway Wilding Blog

Marathon | Highway Wilding Blog

Not sure how I get myself into these things. We have 3 more sites to check before we wrap up the wolverine survey work for this winter. A site up Bryant Creek that’s been the haunt of a hungry lynx since January, a site up Og Meadow in Mt Assiniboine Prov Park, and one site in the Upper Spray River drainage below Palliser Pass.

Mirjam and I decided to check the Bryant and Assiniboine sites. The Bryant site we ski into. Not much trouble since it’s about a 10 km ski in. The Assiniboine site we’ve been lucky to have the support of Andre Renner who’s let us fly into the Lodge with him twice. However, this late date, there’s not any flights into the Lodge, so we’ll have to ski in and ski out – could be tricky given the deteriorating snow conditions.

I had initially thought we’d spend a couple of nights at the Bryant Cabin – ski in the 15 km to the cabin. Get up next day and ski to the Assiniboine site about 15 km away and then back to the cabin. Ski out the next day, checking the Bryant hair trap.

Mirjam had another plan. Get up early, ski to Bryant, continue up to Assiniboine Pass and  to the hair trap site 3 km away, check the site, ski down the Pass to Bryant Creek and the warden cabin – an estimated 37km day.

Well, we’ve done a couple 35-40 km trips in one day this year – both times at the Spray 16 site – so what’s the big deal I thought. The more I thought about it, the easier the trip seemed, and that mix of anticipation and challenge set in.

We left Canmore at 6am and headed up towards the Smith-Dorrien road but was stopped by a locked gate just up from the Nordic Centre. A call to dispatch told us that the road was closed to wash-outs. Headed back down and around to Hwy 40 – getting a delay on our “early start” time.

We ended up at Mt Shark a little before 8am, the only car in parking lot, of course. By 8am we were skiing towards Bryant. At 1045 we’d arrived to the Bryant warden cabin – the snow was packed and skiing was fast. We opened the cabin up, got the stove fired up and began brewing tea and Top Raman noodles for an early lunch. By noon, we were back on our skis and heading towards Assiniboine Pass.

The weather turned on us, dropping in temperature and showering us with rain. By the time we arrived at Assiniboine Pass, there were low dark clouds, steady rainfall, and the occasional burst of thunder and lightening nearby.

We skied to the site, arriving around 330pm, and it definitely had all the signs of a wolverine visit. Lots of wolverine-ish looking hair on the barbs and no beaver left on the tree. We collected 17 hair samples while the rain continued to pour down on us, and finally about 430pm packed up and began the ski out of Assiniboine and back to the warden cabin.

We arrived at 700pm, soaked to the bone. In no time the cabin looked like a Chinese laundry. Pasta al pesto, some great cheese Mirjam brought (and fried), done dishes and a good night’s sleep.

Next morning, nearly clear skies, beautiful day and fast ski out. Fresh grizzly bear tracks over our ski tracks coming in. We hooted and hollered as we ski down and out along Bryant Cr. At the Bryant site, not any wolverine-ish looking hairs, but just a lot of light-coloured lynx type hairs. The cameras will tell…

Source: Marathon | Highway Wilding Blog

Daytrip | Highway Wilding Blog

Daytrip | Highway Wilding Blog

Daytrip

April is here. We’re close to finishing the season for wolverine work. It’s been great to continue another winter of the noninvasive survey “trapping hairs” of wolverines, keeping our backs strong, our legs firm and clothes smelling of Gusto. This year we set out relatively few (10 sites), split between the TCH corridor and a “transition area” between our large study grid and one in Kananaskis Country. This winter the full KCtry grid is being surveyed. Next winter (2012-13) we will repeat our survey over 6000km2 in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay NP, as we did in winter 2010-11.

One of our transition sites is in the Spray River drainage. I skied into the site yesterday (Monday Apr 9) to check it for the last time and take it down. No beaver or smelly lure to carry in, so a much lighter load than before. Skiing this time of year can be tricky given the warm temperatures during mid and latter part of day, slowing one down to a laborious trudge, snow sticking to skis, and the constant pole whack on the skis. For that reason I left early, was skiing by 730am.

Start at Goat Creek trailhead and bombed down the icy trail to the Spray River junction. Record time, slightly less than 1 hr – and didn’t fall once! From the junction, our site is about 10km up the Spray drainage. Beautiful morning ski. Don Gorrie snowmobiled in day before to bring out the beaver barrel located near the hair trap site, so having a packed trail made skiing fast. I was following 2-3 day old wolverine tracks down the trail, heading the same direction I was. They went for 3-4 kilometres and most of the time were two tracks, interweaving, one on one side, one on the other, occasionally same side. By 1115am I was at the site. Took down the camera. Collected 10 hair samples (some looking wolverine-ish). Pulled down the barbed wire. Decided to ski back out since the conditions were so fast, rest of day was supposed to stay cool (+7 C) and wouldn’t likely run into sloppy crust-breaking snow. On the return, I found 2 scats along the wolverine tracks (missed them on the way in) and collected them (like hairs) for genetic analysis to confirm species, individual and gender identification. Spring like conditions on the way out. No one seen on the trail anywhere. Arrived at Goat Creek parking lot at 5pm (quitting time!).

Source: Daytrip | Highway Wilding Blog

Of Gusto and Gulos… | Highway Wilding Blog

Of Gusto and Gulos… | Highway Wilding Blog

Winter is a busy time for us. This is when a large part of our field research takes place. Here the long winters and abundant snow provides advantages to other seasons. Hungry bears are asleep, that might otherwise wreak havoc on beaver baits set out at wolverine hair traps. Snow cover reveals – magically – the movements (and behaviours!) of wildlife in the highway corridor and around culverts, which is impossible to decipher in the dry months.

Wolverines ? – Next year is another big year for us. But this winter we’re collaborating with wolverine surveys in Kananaskis Country by setting hair traps and collecting data on wolverines in a boundary region between our national park study area and theirs to the east. We’ve put out 3 hair traps so far and will set two more this month. Within our study area we’ve set a half dozen wolverine hair traps within the TCH corridor, to try and collect more information on where wolverines are crossing the highway (if at all!) and hitting some spots where we struck out last winter. In total we’ll be managing about a dozen hair traps this winter. Mirjam Barrueto is helping with this work, as is Ben Dorsey from time to time. Nikki Heim who assisted on the wolverine survey last year is running the KCtry survey as part of her Masters project at U Vic.

Much of what comes up on this blog will probably be from our wolverine work. Not that weasels and meadow voles’ running through culverts isn’t sexy, but it’s hard to compete with ‘le carcajou’. A short glossary of terms is in order that will help understand some of the jargon we use as part of the research.

Gulo Glossary (not alphabetical)

Gulo = wolverine…Gulo is the genus of the species Gulo gulo (doubly “Gulo”!).

Gusto = extremely pungent, foul-smelling trappers lure (irresistible to Gulos) that we smear on a small rag and hang high to bring wolverines into the area of a hair trap. Some people really like the smell, and the more you’re around it the more you’re convinced it has a hint of anise, along with skunk scent glands and who knows what else.

Beaver bits = while setting a hair trap, bits of frozen beaver carcass that comes raining down on you as you hold the beaver carcass 2 m high up against a tree and your “partner” hammers vigorously, spiking the carcass to the tree.

Beaver jacket = appropriate attire (usually picked up for cheap at Value Village) used to shield you from the shower of beaver bits….

Buggers = coined by Barb Bertch…these are baits (beavers) that are frozen into a misshaped mass of …beaver…and don’t lie flush against the hanging tree.

Wolveriners (pronounced: wol – ve – reeners) = that’s us! And anyone that joins us.

Wolverining = that’s where we go when we set up a hair trap.

Wolverine party truck = our smelly work vehicle.

Prayer flag = Gusto-smeared rag hung high from a tree near the hair trap site.

More vocabulary to come…

Hope you like the website…

Don’t forget to check out videos that award-winning filmmaker Leanne Allison has created.

Also our Wolverine Watch.org website where you can record with an online mapping tool observations of wolverines or their tracks you come across.

We’ll also be posting photos from our ‘camera traps’ that take you from the comfort of your internet connection to backcountry ski trails and snowladen glades full of wolverine tracks and wanderings.

We’ll try to keep this dynamic and full of surprises…

tony

Source: Of Gusto and Gulos… | Highway Wilding Blog

 

Dr. Clevenger to speak on CBC Radio’s The Eyeopener

Dr. Clevenger to speak on CBC Radio’s The Eyeopener

Dr. Tony Clevenger will be speaking on Calgary’s CBC Radio program “The Eyeopener” at approximately 7:20am on Tuesday, December 13. Be sure to tune in to learn about the first use of a wildlife overpass by a wolverine and the importance of highway crossing structures for wolverine and other animals.

Wolverines featured in Globe & Mail article

Wolverines featured in Globe & Mail article

IMG_0215-BATH2-1024x576We are pleased to share that Bruce Kirkby has written an excellent article for the Globe and Mail about wolverine, the challenges to their survival, and the researchers who are studying them including Dr. Tony Clevenger. The article also features several Highway Wilding images and a link to one of the Highway Wilding research videos created by film maker Leanne Allison. Please enjoy and share this story with others:

A hearty thank you for your support and assistance last winter…

A hearty thank you for your support and assistance last winter…

We would like to thank the following people for their support and generous assistance with our wolverine research during the winter of 2010-2011:

  • Don Gorrie
  • Cathy Gill
  • Jim Zettel
  • Reg Bunyan
  • Dan Rafla
  • Andrea Kortello
  • Steve Bertollo
  • Reg Hawryluk
  • Cal Sime
  • Wayne Shibley
  • Jon Pedlar and Alberta Snow Survey
  • Bill Abercrombie (Animal Damage Control)
  • Amiskwi Lodge
  • Lake O’Hara Lodge (Bruce Millar)

Parks Canada staff:

  • Marc Ledwidge
  • Brian Webster
  • Trevor Kinley
  • Ron Leblanc
  • Blair Fyten
  • Lake Louise Tracksetters
  • Lisa Paulson
  • Brad White

Wolverine Watch Volunteers:

  • Adam Ford
  • Barb Sobota
  • Bob Toothill
  • Earl Marsh
  • Gord Gilbertson
  • Heather Milligan
  • Ian Pengelly
  • Jeff Boyd
  • Jenn Redvers
  • Jenny Earle
  • Marg Gmoser
  • Rachel Darvill
  • Sadie Parr
  • Tim Johnson

Project Begins Winter 2010

Project Begins Winter 2010

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.Tony-Hoare_Faye-Upper-Siffleur-198x300

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.