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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Five years in the making, new survey catalogs nearly 200 species across the Idaho Panhandle

After five years of work, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist recently finished one of the most comprehensive records ever compiled about what lives in the Idaho Panhandle’s forests, fields and wetlands. Michael Lucid and collaborators found nearly 200 species at 2,300 survey sites across millions of acres of public and private lands.

Idaho wildlife experts documenting new species

Molly Wiebush knelt in a shady spot by a downed log, turning over rocks and shredding rotten wood as she searched for signs of gastropod life. Spending the summer chasing snails and slugs has given the Idaho Fish and Game technician an appreciation for how elusive the forest decomposers can be. Snails the size of sequins are difficult to spot. And with their camouflage coloring, slugs blend into the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Idaho researchers tap citizen scientists to survey rare creatures

Researchers are putting the spotlight on reclusive creatures in the Inland Northwest, ranging from slugs and frogs to lynx and wolverines. How climate change and other modern threats will impact these critters is the million-dollar question the Idaho Fish and Game Department and other scientists are studying with the help of a federal grant and hundreds of citizen scientists.

Surveying North Idaho critters

Researchers are tapping citizen scientists to survey reclusive creatures in the Idaho Panhandle, ranging from slugs and frogs to lynx and wolverines. (See story.) Outdoors editor Rich Landers tagged along with a group of volunteers who snowshoed into the backcountry for a winter check on a bait station that's part of North Idaho's Multi-species Baseline Initiative. The group downloaded photos from a motion activated camera set up to capture images of wolverines or other critters scientists are studying. The collected hair from the bait station for DNA testing. Then they rebaited the station with a fresh, frozen beaver carcass and left, to return again weeks later. Landers' photos are combined here with images from the many Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness volunteers who trek far into the backcountry tending dozens of monitoring sites for the project organized by the Idaho Fish and Game Department. The best photos, though, are the trail-cam images of various critters that wander the winter backcountry of the Selkirk, Purcell and Cabinet mountains.