Posts tagged: wolverine
USFWS again extends comment period on protection of wolverines
A dispute on the reliability of conflicting research on wolverines was cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its decision to extend by six months the public comment period on a proposal to put the elusive species under federal protection.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — An organization of wildlife officials for Western states is asking the federal government to delay a possible listing for wolverines as a threatened species, which could mean an end to trapping outside Alaska for the animal’s fur.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife objects to any listing based solely on fears climate change could shrink the wolverine’s wintry terrain along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and other Western ranges.
“Climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act,” Bill Bates, a representative from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told The Tribune.
Bates said the population of wolverines has actually increased since the time of European settlement, even though it’s estimated fewer than 300 of the elusive, snow-loving carnivores roam the mountain ranges of the Lower 48 states.
“We can wait and see what happens with climate change in the next 20 to 30 years,” Bates said.
Federal officials say they aren’t trying to use the wolverine as a means to regulate greenhouse gases, but they say it’s a fact climate change threatens the wolverine as much as it does the polar bear. The Interior Department listed polar bears as threatened five years ago because of loss of their primary habitat, sea ice, due to climate warming.
In January, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed protections for the wolverine throughout the continental U.S. It opened a public comment period that’s set to end on Monday.
Read on for more of the story moved by the Associated Press.
WILDLIFE — Volunteers are needed once again to monitor wolverine bait stations in the Idaho Panhandle in a state Fish and Game research project organized by the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
Kristen Nowicki, the group's new field projects director, has set up a new online registration form volunteers can use to get on the list for group treks on snowshoes or skis to set up and monitor bait stations that collect photos and hair samples from any furry visitor.
Being the first to see the images captured on the motion-triggered trail cams is worth the effort alone. A large variety of wildlife visits the sites.
Follow this link to the form to register and participate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — While 25 environmental groups quickly applauded a federal proposal to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act last week, officials from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have declared the effort unnecessary.
“There is no evidence suggesting that wolverines will not adapt sufficiently to diminished late spring snow pack (assuming there is any) to maintain viability,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead wrote in a letter sent Monday to federal officials.
Read on for the story from the Associated Press.
In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the wolverine as a “threatened” species under the ESA primarily because of habitat fragmentation and losses from climate change. Wolverines, the rarest carnivore in the lower 48 states, depend on late spring snow for travel and protection of denning sites.
A list of the environmental groups and their common comments are posted here.
Additional threats to the species include an exceptionally small and vulnerable population size in the Lower 48 – where the entire population is no more than 250-300 individuals – and mortality from trapping, which is legal on a limited basis in states such as Montana.
Today the Western Environmental Law Center organize and presented the comments for the groups. “We are supportive of the Service’s long-overdue proposal to protect wolverine under the ESA,” said Matthew Bishop, attorney and lead author of the comments. Bishop is in the Helena field office of the WELC, wich is based in Eugene.
Calling it “a huge step in the right direction, Bishop said, “the proposed rule does not go far enough to ensure the long-term survival and recovery of the species. The groups say the wolverine should be given the more protective “endangered” status.
WILDLIFE — Montana's big Crown of the Continent wilderness areas are providing fertile ground for research on wolverines, lynx and fishers, as you can read in this Missoulian story.
This research eventually will blend with similar efforts in Idaho and Washington to help get a better profile of the life and needs of these off-the-radar creatures.
WILDLIFE — Research underway in Washington, Oregon and Idaho seeks to understand more about a wilderness icon, North America's reclusive carnivore — the wolverine.
Last weekend we took a glimpse at how citizen scientists are helping Idaho Fish and Game monitor a range of carnivores including wolverines in the Idaho Panhandle.
KING 5 TV this week has an excellent update (above) on wolverine research in the North Cascades, including footage of a a fiesty critter trapped, collared and released.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species is generating more insight into the elusive carnivore. Even in modern times, wildlife biologists are just documenting the life-history suggested in this quote of the day:
“We put a GPS collar on him and released him there in the Tetons, and he just disappeared. Eventually, he came back to the Tetons and dropped his collar, and we found it. He went down to Pocatello, Idaho, and back to the Tetons in three weeks. It really opened our eyes to how these animals can travel unbelievable distances in a short amount of time.”
—Bob Inman,a carnivore biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, about the travels of a male wolverine radio-collared during a decadelong study of the species in Wyoming and Montana.
- Jackson Hole News & Guide
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposal listing the wolverine in the lower 48 states as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The agency announced its proposal today, a dozen years after environmental groups began petitioning to study and protect the elusive carnivore of high, wild places. Twice in those years, the feds have recommended against listing the wolverine as threatened.
Wolverines are threated by their small population size and disturbance to their habitat by climate change.
Agency officials say the proposed rule would not affect recreation, timber harvest or other activities if wolverines are listed as threatened.
The Cascades have been identified as good wolverine habitat, as well as portions of the Bitterroots in Idaho and Montana and the Glacier Park region, to name a few places.
Federal researchers have been studying Washington’s wolverines since 2005. They’re tracking seven females and four males that inhabit the North Cascades transboundary region, and have located two natal den sites.
Wolverines are rare, wide-ranging alpine carnivores. As the largest land dwelling member of the weasel family, wolverines were once widespread across the contiguous United States and now are constrained to remote wilderness regions of the Cascade and Rocky Mountains where heavy snowpack persists well into spring. Female wolverines require deep snow for their dens, digging eight or more feet into the snow to provide warmth and shelter for their kits. But wolverines may lose up to two-thirds of suitable habitat by the end of this century. Researchers estimate that the extent of areas in the western U.S. with persistent spring snowpack is likely to recede 33% by 2045 and 63% by 2099 as a result of climate change.
See the PBS Nature documentary, Chasing the phantom
THREATENED SPECIES — Montana is taking a controversial stand on trapping of wolverines.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to propose listing the wolverine as a threatened species next week, a decision that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said they'll oppose because the state has a healthy population of the elusive member of the weasel family.
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness, the Idaho Conservation League and Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) once again are forming the core of the effort to put up bait, tend motion-activated cameras and harvest hair left by visiting critters for DNA sampling.
More than 140 volunteers helped last year in the effort overseen by Idaho Fish and Game Department researchers.
On Saturday, volunteers will be trained in some new proceedures from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Forest Service Sandpoint Ranger District, 1602 Ontario St.
Since much of the work requires volunteers to ski or shoeshoe into the backcountry, an optional avalanche awareness presentation is included.
Info: (208) 265-9565
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness once again is asking people to vote online before Sunday (Oct. 28) to help the group garner $27,600 in requested grants from Zoo Boise that would be applied to wolverine research in the Idaho Panhandle.
Visit the Zoo Boise projects website for details and to vote.
Review the the wolverine proposal and the other finalists and then vote for your two favorites in each category. The four projects with the most votes will each receive a grant from the total of $110,000 the zoo is awarding in 2012. One vote session per person is allowed.
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has partnered with Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Conservation League on a proposal for an Idaho Panhandle Wolverine Study.
Wolverines (Gulo gulo) have been classified as ‘warranted but precluded’ for listing as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Only about 35 breeding wolverine females were known to be roaming the lower 48 states two years ago.
Read on for more details about the North Idaho project.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — After six years of effort, Methow Valley-based researchers have documented that wolverines have produced kits this spring in the North Cascades south of Highway 20.
A remote camera had photographed a GPD-collared female carrying a kit from one den to another. That's an exciting development for the Forest Service researchers.
Read the Wenatchee World story.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Although they're trying to document the presence of wolverines, getting good snapshots of a Canada lynx still made the day for volunteers monitoring bait stations for the wolverine research project trail cams in North Idaho last week.
The photo comes from a bait station set up by Idaho Fish and Game, which is partnering on the research with Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
Note the black tufts on the tips of the ears, and the huge furry feet that give it snowshoe-like buoyancy on the snow. The winter track of a lynx looks as though a powder puff has been dabbed in the snow.
See more bait station photos of the lynx as well as of the volunteers and other critters visiting the bait stations — on the Wolverine Study Facebook Page.
See martens, bobcats, volunteer helpers — and even a wolverine — in the group's wolverine research Facebook photo album.
The hare in the photo above normally wouldn't be able to go eyeball to eyeball with the camera mounted up on the trunk of a tree, but winter winds drifted snow into a viewing platform.
Some readers viewed the mystery close-up photo (left) and guessed “rabbit.” Close, but not correct.
Read on for the differences between “hares” and “rabbits.”
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — More than 40 volunteers showed up for a training course on Dec. 3 to learn how to use their expertise in backcountry snowshoeing or ski touring to help researchers study wolverines.
It's already paid off. Read on for the big news from last week.
Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologists taught them how to rig up bait and install wire gun-cleaning brushes in the bait tree to snag hair for DNA testing as the critters climb up for the free meal. They also learned about trail cams and traveling safely through avalanche terrain.
Now they're out doing it in the wilds of the Cabinet mountains northeast of Lake Pend Oreille, as you see by the photos. The going's tough, but that's why many of them signed up. There's nothing better that having a purpose for going into the winter backcountry.
Oh, yeah. The big news:
After checking their first round of rare forest carnivore monitoring stations last week, Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists discovered a wolverine had been caught on camera in the Selkirk Mountains of North Idaho. The biologists have confirmed the wolverine visited the station twice. The story is to be continued… but click “continue reading” below to see one more photo of what volunteers are going through to support this research.
WILDLIFE RESEARCH — A recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management confirmed that wolverines regularly patrol a vast mountain territory.
Eight years of radio-tracking 30 individual wolverines in the Rocky Mountains has provided an abundance of new data about the world's largest member of the weasel family, including that the feisty mammals survive year-round in harsh, snowy conditions 9,000 feet above see level.
See details and photos in this report from Mongabay.com.
Although immeasurably tough, the animal is nearly extinct in the lower 48 states of the U.S.
RARE SPECIES — Five days after discovering the first documented wolverine tracks in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon, researcher Audrey Magoun has downloaded photos of two wolverines from a bait station camera.
“They are clearly photos of two different individuals,” Magoun said.
The photos were taken on April 2 and 13 at a bait station in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and downloaded on Friday.
The set of tracks discovered on April 17 was the first confirmation of a wolverine in Wallowa County.
Read on for more details.
WILDLIFE– An Oregon state researcher has confirmed wolverine tracks in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the first documentation of the species in Wallowa County.
According to the Columbia Basin Bulletin, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department researcher Audrey Magoun found the wolverine tracks in the snow on April 17 while hiking to a remote camera site set up to detect wolverines. She followed the tracks for about a mile until they left the river bottom and headed into the high country.
“From the size of the track, it is probably a male,” said Magoun who has dedicated her career to studying wolverine since she received her Ph.D. in 1978.
“This is the first confirmation of a wolverine in Wallowa County,” said Vic Coggins, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife district wildlife biologist. “We’ve always thought it was good habitat, and we’ve had reports but nothing we could verify until now.”
Read on for more details.