November 16 was a momentous day for the Highway Wilding project. Dr. Tony Clevenger and his intrepid team of researchers documented the inaugural use of a wildlife overpass in Banff National Park by a wolverine! And, here is the proof:
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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.
We 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:
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
We would like to thank everyone who has been kindly sending along their wolverine observations. Please keep those observations coming! You can enter your observation through our online mapping tool (http://www.rockies.ca/wolverine/maptool.php) or by sending an email to email@example.com including as many details as possible regarding your sighting or observation including: date, time, type of observation and any supporting information. For example, if you saw a wolverine you could report: direction of wolverine’s travel, GPS coordinates of the observation or your approximate geographic location (e.g., Bow Summit), and behaviour of the animal (e.g., running, walking, feeding, etc.). If you saw a track you could report the direction of the wolverine’s travel, size of track, GPS coordinates of observation or approximate geographic location, etc. If you have any photos of wolverine, tracks or scat to share with us, please send them along as well.
We recently received a wolverine observation in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park from David Bynoe (http://www.davidbynoe.com) Check out these photos of this wolverine’s incredible path up a steep slope. Thanks to David for sharing these photos with us.
WOLVERINE RESEARCH: THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST IN VOLUNTEERING AND AN UPDATE
July 15, 2011
Dear Wolverine Watch Volunteers:
Thank you for your interest in volunteering for Wolverine Watch this winter. We had limited volunteer positions and were unable to use your generous offer of assistance. However, now that the wolverine survey season for 2010/2011 has been completed we wanted to share some of our experiences and results with you.
Our first sampling season was a success! This winter, our small research team was able to set up a total of 48 hair trap sites in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks and in the Columbia Valley near Golden, British Columbia. The total distance travelled by our team was over 2000kms during the four-month period.
The start of the season was challenging. We skied up the long Rocky Mountain valley bottoms, crossed over vast frozen lakes, and peaked over high mountain passes. In sun and storms we carried heavy packs across deep hollow snow-packs enduring brutally cold temperatures dropping to below 30 degrees Celsius.
As the winter progressed our hardiness improved in sync with the stabilizing snow pack and the warming weather. All season we kept warm with laughter and the exiting hopes of finding wolverine, knowing that the wolverine was now in its winter element. Tracks began to move across the landscape as far as the eye could see – and straight to our bait sites!!
Absence of the carcass we had hung a month before and long dark-coloured guard hairs intertwined between the barbs that had been wrapped around the trunk of the tree were good indications that a wolverine has visited the site. And our camera images provided proof of our assumptions.
The visitation rate to the hair trap sites increased during the three sampling sessions. Session one had a percent visitation rate of 36% (17 of 47 sites), 71% of the sites (34 of 48 sites) were visited in session two, while 81% (38 of 47 sites) of the sites were visited by wolverine during the third and final session.
- 85% of the total sites were visited (41 out of 48 sites) at least once during the winter.
- 91% of the national parks sites (39 out of 43 sites) were visited at least once during the winter.
- Of the 41 sites visited by wolverines, 7 (17%) were visited only one time, 19 (46%) were visited twice, and 15 (37%) sites were visited all three sampling sessions.
More than 850 hair samples were collected during the three sampling sessions. Not all samples were from wolverines since we collected all hair samples found at the hair traps. We expect to have results back from the genetics lab in the fall. Our team has already begun a pool to determine who can guess how many different wolverines were out there visiting our traps this winter!
We apologize that we were not able to have your participation this year but the wolverine project will be conducting another field season during the winter of 2012/2013 and we would love to have your help!
Please visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/highwaywilding to view and share five short videos about the research project. The videos discuss the need for this research, give you a real sense as to what the field work entails and showcases some of the animals that visited our sites this winter. Also, please continue to check out our website atwww.wolverinewatch.org.
On behalf of the wolverine team: Tony Clevenger, Ben Dorsey, Barb Bertch, Jen Reimer, and Alex Taylor.
For a summary of this past winter’s results and to view some of the best imagery captured by our remote cameras, please watch our video entitled “While the Researchers Were Away”:
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.