A new book on wolverine camera-trapping is available here.
Audrey Magoun, the lead author, is one of the great pioneers of wolverine research in the US, from early studies on ecology and biology, to hand-rearing a pair of kits to better understand their behaviors in the natural landscape, to her recent work pushing the boundaries of non-invasive monitoring techniques. In the course of her work, she discovered that each wolverine has a unique chest-patch and that you can therefore monitor individuals if you can capture images of their patches.
Of course, this involves getting a wolverine to stand up on its hind legs for the camera (you can also tell if a female wolverine is lactating by doing this….) and I’m sure anyone with any knowledge of wolverines is aware that it’s hard to induce a gulo to do anything it doesn’t want to. How do you make a wolverine want to stand up in front of a camera? It involves placing a bait overhead, and the efforts of wolverines to obtain said bait doesn’t stop with demurely reaching up and snagging the treat; it involves somersaults, hanging upside down, taking flying leaps, and other acrobatics. As featured in the film Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom, the antics of Audrey’s subjects, even in still imagary, were enough to make the audience laugh out loud.
A 15-page preview of the book is available, and it looks like it is full of great shots. Given the dearth of wolverine imagery out there, it should be enjoyable to look at even if you’re a non-scientist wolverine fan. For those of us who are scientist wolverine fans, it will be fantastic to know how to set up camera traps for gulo studies – we are hoping to use these techniques for my work in Mongolia. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I am looking forward to it.
Proceeds from the sale of the book go to wolverine conservation and research.