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

Where are the wolverines? Researchers need your help

Observations are welcome particularly in the Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee and Cariboo range

Wide-ranging, wily and wary, wolverines come by their tough reputation honestly. And now researchers are seeking for community scientists to better understand this 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.

Researchers are interested in sightings of wolverine, wolverine tracks, scats and dens, or what people might think was a wolverine sign. Observations are welcome from across western Canada and the Rocky Mountains, particularly the Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee and Cariboo ranges of southeastern B.C. Reports can be made at the Wolverine Watch website.

While the chances of seeing a wolverine are rare, dens and tracks are more likely and easier to see because the mammals have a characteristic gait and paw print. Wolverines are also sensitive to disturbance, so after people record their observation, it’s best if they move on and do not try to follow the tracks.

“Because wolverines are rare, solitary and travel long distances over large areas to find food — more than 500 square kilometres — we need help narrowing down where they are. Community scientists can really help,” says Andrea Kortello project co-lead with the South Columbia Mountains Wolverine Project.

Doris Hausleitner, also project co-lead, says wolverines have distinct paths as they usually travel in a line, sometimes for kilometres, as if they are on a mission.

“Wolverine generally move in a loping gait, leaving 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 tree-line, where they are visible from quite far away.

“The reason we are studying wolverines is to understand impacts on these sensitive mammals and their habitat. These animals roam far and wide and may be sensitive to changes to their habitat from a range of factors, including human activity and climate changes,” says Candace Batycki, program director at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, one of the project partners.

View this post on Instagram

Wolverine tracks can be found in the valley bottom and in forests but are often encountered high up above tree-line. Wolverines usually travel in a slightly diagonal line, sometimes for kilometers, as if they are on a mission. They're also often in 2×2 or 3×3 patterns. Seen a wolverine or wolverine tracks? You can help scientists gather information about wolverines in B.C.’s Kootenay, Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee and Cariboo ranges. Report sightings of dens or tracks to @wolverine_watch (link in bio) If you're lucky enough to see tracks, please don't follow them. Wolverines are sensitive to human disturbance. Photo 1: Wolverine by @matherpeter | Photo 2: 3×3 tracks | Photo 3: 2×2 tracks | Photo 4: A wolverine den by Ernst Vikne . . . #citsci #wolverinewatch #wildlife_perfection #wolverine #explorebc #supernaturalbc #wildlifephotography #mountainsmatter #coexistence #naturewizards #naturegram #naturelovers #y2yregion #y2ysci #instanature #ig_world_nature #mountainlife #exploreyourplanet #stayandwander #roamtheplanet #coexistence #wildernessculture #nature_seekers #intothewild #exploremore #wearestillwild #freshairandfreedom #inthewoods #optoutside #neverstopexploring

A post shared by Yellowstone to Yukon (@y2y_initiative) on

The South Columbia Mountains Wolverine Project is one of several Wolverine Watch projects collecting data in western North America in order to better understand whether or not human activity impacts 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 these regions are critical to the integrity of the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor.

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.

The collaborative project educates and engages communities, while endeavoring to build public support for conserving the integrity of large landscapes, habitat connectivity, and solutions that support wildlife populations in the working landscapes of the study area.

Just Posted

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Revelstoke Grizzlies celebrate the end of their regular season with awards

Their last game is on Saturday and the playoffs start next week

MP Stetski calls for more funding for rural internet

Stetski says there is a growing digital divide between rural and urban communities

Revelstoke Search and Rescue calls Feb. 11-17

Revelstoke Search and Rescue reports their activities to Emergency Management BC who… Continue reading

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Thieves steal bottles, mattress from recycle depot

Chase RCMP still investigating theft of tires, generator from commercial garage

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on Rail Trail

Federal grant would pay for a paved path from Sicamous to Armstrong

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Cold War Cabaret offers song, slam poetry and sock puppets

Devon More returns to Shuswap with Berlin Waltz, March 16

Shuswap athletes help Team BC to podium at Canada Winter Games

Speed-skater wins bronze, ringette player contributes to playoff victory

Most Read