Wolverine Events in Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho

Here is the official schedule of January, 2011 wolverine talks in Colorado; note that Vail has been added on January 26th. Many thanks to the Center for Native Ecosystems and all the co-sponsors who have contributed time and resources to making these events happen!

January 26th – Edwards, New Battle Mountain High School, 6-8 pm

January 27th – Golden, American Mountaineering Center, 6-8 pm

January 28th – Denver, Denver Zoo, 7-9 pm

January 29th – Boulder, REI, 6-8 pm

In February, Jason will be speaking in Wyoming and Idaho at the following locations:

February 18th: Lander, Wyoming.

February 23rd: Boulder, Wyoming.

February 25: Sun Valley, Idaho.

Details on time and venue will follow.

Also, Gianna Savoie and Nature’s Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom won a Cine Golden Eagle Award in Environment and Science! Congratulations to everyone involved in that amazing film. The documentary was also selected for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, and will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 16th at 9:45am at Oddfellows, 212 Spring Street, Nevada City, CA. Gianna herself will not be able to make it to this showing, but it’s a great chance to see wolverines on the big screen.

Finally, Montana’s wolverine trapping season is closed in region one, with two wolverines killed. The quota in this region is three wolverines, with a female sub-quota of one, which means that a female was killed this year. I’m not posting this news to rile people up, but to raise again the question of whether we know for sure that removing female wolverines – especially reproductive females, although I don’t know whether this particular female was reproductive – from population nodes is safe for the overall population. We also need more information on the extent to which Montana’s wolverines serve as genetic boosters to populations further south, and a source population for recolonization of unoccupied regions. All of these questions bear further careful consideration. I hope we find funding and motivation to get some monitoring and research underway in the near future.

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2 thoughts on “Wolverine Events in Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho

  1. Thanks so much for this important post. The problem with waiting for the research (and the $ to be raised to fund the research) to dictate whether or not trapping wolverines is sustainable for their population, means that in the meantime, we run the risk of having a detrimental impact on the species. We DO know that this is an incredibly low-density animal. There may be only be 1 male and a couple of females occupying a 500 square-mile area, and only a few hundred of these animals in the entire Lower 48. We DO know that if you take ONE single reproductive female out of a population, you can cause that entire population to take a nosedive. We DO know that Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that allows the trapping of wolverines and that it is primarily for “trophy” animals. But it’s what we DON’T know that could lead this rare and remarkable species to the brink of extinction. In my opinion, we ought to ban wolverine trapping altogether until we can answer some of the unknowns. Otherwise, all the while we “wait and see” what the effects of trapping might be, we could very well be leading the already thin-on-the-ground wolverine populations to the point of no return.

  2. Thanks, Gianna. A precautionary approach would be far wiser and I would love to see that happen, with or without research. I wasn’t suggesting we wait to see what the effects are, just saying that I hope that we find money and motivation to do the monitoring, whether trapping is ongoing or not. (I can see why you would construct it as you did, though.) In fact, one way to figure out how dependent Wyoming wolverines are on Montana would be to shut the trapping season and see if surplus juveniles start dispersing to points south – I’m not sure how you could prove it effectively or efficiently if trapping was on-going. Also, as cited in the listing decision, the differences between Canada’s trapping regime (which allows more take) and Montana’s regime has an observable effect on genetic exchange between wolverines in Montana and Canada – it seems that the rate is much lower than expected under a non-trapping scenario. So there’s reason to think that trapping does have repercussions.

    Montana has been very responsive to concerns about wolverine trapping over the past few years and has substantially reduced the quota, which is great. You are right, however, that in populations of extremely rare animals with very low reproductive rates, every animal counts. Especially in situations where the population is actually a meta-population and when there is a chance that you could, by removing a single reproductive female from a range, knock out all of the reproductive potential of that node for a year or more. Nothing against trapping as a tradition, and we certainly owe much of our historical knowledge of wolverines to the mountain men, but in this specific case I think we need to give the population a rest for a little while.

    What I don’t want is a bunch of angry wolverine fans converging on Montana saying “The Wolverine Blog told us you are evil for allowing trapping of wolverines.” (Perhaps I give myself too much credit? I am sure I don’t actually command a fan base that would be willing to do my bidding….but still….) There are sound scientific reasons for taking a more precautionary approach, and I’d prefer to keep the science center stage, and the discussion civil. That was what I meant about not getting people riled up. It’s too easy to have a very emotional reaction and then try to find someone to blame, and in many cases that can just escalate a situation and make it harder than it needs to be. Not that you, Gianna, are doing this – your response is entirely grounded in the science. But examples exist in other conservation cases of people getting pretty self-righteous and adversarial. I would love to see wolverines, as the first big carnivore conservation story of the 21st century, become an emblem of a non-contentious conservation model for the Western US. They are so amazing in all ways that I bet they could pull this off, too.

    Here are some of my previous thoughts on the Montana trapping issue: https://egulo.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/trapping-season/

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