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…