The wolverine, Gulo gulo is the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family Mustelidae. (File photo)

The wolverine, Gulo gulo is the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family Mustelidae. (File photo)

Revelstokians can help in wolverine research

Wolverine Watch is looking for observations relating to the animal from across western Canada

Wolverines: known to be tough by nature, are also tough to find and study. For the second year in a row, recreationists in southeastern British Columbia can put their “community scientist” hats on. Wolverine researchers need the community’s help to better understand this elusive species-at-risk.

Wolverine Watch is a scientific collaboration of researchers from British Columbia and Alberta. These scientists are asking people who ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or take part in other winter activities in the Canadian Rockies and associated mountain ranges to keep their eyes peeled for signs of wolverines and share what they see.

READ MORE: VIDEO: The secret lives of wolverines

READ MORE: 6 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., including ‘outbreak’ at care home

Thanks to those who took part in last year’s project, Wolverine Watch researchers say they’ve had more than 300 submitted reports of wolverine tracks, as well as actual wolverines. Of those reports, five were of dens, including some from Alberta; and several sightings from highways. These are particularly helpful because they provide extra information about the wide-ranging wolverine’s connectivity and movement.

“Wolverine roam far and wide and may be sensitive to changes to their habitat from a range of factors, including human activity and climate changes,” said Candace Batycki, program director at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, one of the project’s partners. “We are studying wolverines to understand impacts on these sensitive animals and their habitat, and the community’s involvement has made a big impact.”

Researchers are looking for peoples’ sightings of wolverine, wolverine tracks, scats and dens, or what people might think is a sign of a wolverine. Observations are welcome from across western Canada and the Rocky Mountains, particularly the Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee, Columbia and Cariboo ranges of southeastern British Columbia. Reports can be submitted on the Wolverine Watch website.

While the chances of seeing a wolverine are rare, dens and tracks are more common and easier to see because the mammals have a characteristic way of walking and paw print. Wolverines are highly sensitive to disturbance, so it’s very important that after people record their observation, they do not follow the tracks.

“Wolverines are naturally rare, solitary and travel long distances over massive areas to find food — more than 500 square kilometres. We are thrilled about the great engagement from community scientists so far but there’s still lots of winter recreation time left so we’re hoping people will keep submitting their sightings,” said Batycki.  

Doris Hausleitner, who co-leads the project, said wolverines have distinct paths as they usually travel in a line, sometimes for kilometres at a time, as if on a mission.

“Wolverine generally leave behind a diagonal pattern of tracks in sets of twos or threes,” she says. Their tracks can be found in the valley bottom and in forests but are more often encountered high up above the tree-line, where they are visible from quite far away.”

The South Columbia Mountains Wolverine Project is one of several Wolverine Watch projects collecting data in western North America to better understand the impacts of human activity on wolverine distribution, reproduction, connectivity and gene flow. Research regions include Canada’s northern Columbia region, the southern Columbia region and the Canadian portion of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem – all of which are critical to the integrity of the Yellowstone to Yukon region.

Data will be used to inform agency decision-makers, landowners, natural resource companies and First Nations to ensure the needs of wolverines are incorporated into land use plans, management plans, highway mitigation and other projects.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke Women’s Hockey Team, circa 1905. Back row: M. Buck, N. Dunne, L. Bliss, E. Pettipiece, V. Coleman. Front row: M. Corley, B. Sawyer, A. Buck. (Revelstoke Museum & Archives Photo 66)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Jan. 14

Local history from the newspaper archives

In many ways, 2020 felt similar to bushwhacking over alder-choked mountains on a hot day, while chased ragged by mosquitos. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Liam’s Lowdown: What a year 2020

Each year I guess what might happen, last year taught me not to do that

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement facility. (Good Samaritan Society photo)
Resident of Vernon’s Heron Grove retirement home tests positive for COVID-19

Interior Health has not declared an outbreak at the facility

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

(Vernon Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Vernon Search and Rescue responds after family gets UTV stuck on SilverStar trails

The family activated their SOS beacon around 3 p.m. once they realized they could be facing a night alone in the mountains

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Most Read