January Wolverine Talks in Colorado

To all Denver and Boulder area residents interested in learning more about wolverine ecology and citizen science: mark your calendars. Jason Wilmot of the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, who has worked on the Glacier National Park and Absaroka Beartooth Wolverine Projects, will be giving a series of presentations in Colorado later this month. The talks will focus on wolverine science, and will provide information about how to identify tracks and sign of both wolverines and lynx. Bring your enthusiasm and your questions.

Here is the schedule so far:

January 27th, American Mountaineering Center, Golden

January 28th, Denver Zoo, Denver

January 29th, REI, Boulder

There’s also a possibility that he will be talking in Vail, although that is not confirmed. In February, Jason will be giving talks in Wyoming and Idaho, including lectures and field trips, so check back for more details about all of these events as the schedule is confirmed.

And finally, unrelated to the lecture tour, but of interest because the bighorn sheep shares the wolverine’s habitat, here is a short video from Conservation Media on the possible effects of climate change on sheep. This represents another instance of scientists wrestling with the question of how global warming will affect biodiversity. Gulos are not the only creature threatened; entire montane ecosystems will be disrupted. The topic is sobering, but the film is fun to watch because of the great footage. Conservation Media has done work for the Wolverine Foundation as well, and their films are consistently high quality and bring attention to wildlife and environmental issues throughout the West. If wolverines and sheep could make their own advocacy pieces, perhaps they would look like Conservation Media’s work.

 

Wolverine as filmmaker. One of the most devoted wolverine fans - and readers of this blog - is wildlife artist Jeff Cain of England. He was kind enough to share some of his work with permission to post it here. Thanks, Jeff! (Image copyright Jeff Cain.)

Delectable Sheep

I camped out last night, and ran across a herd of twelve bighorn rams as the sun was setting.

Bighorn ram (Ovis canadensis), Wyoming

It occurred to me, as I delighted in looking at these sheep for purely asthetic reasons, that a wolverine would probably have a different reaction, namely: yum! Jason Wilmot speculates that there’s an as-yet-unproven relationship between mountain goat distribution and wolverine distribution, and we know that wolverines seem particularly fond of snacking on beavers, but wild sheep, as one of the few ungulates capable of surviving in high altitude terrain, also play a role in gulo’s diet. The Glacier Park study observed instances of wolverines eating sheep and, half a world away, a friend of mine watched a Mongolian wolverine chase argali sheep in Tavan Bogd National Park. Whether wolverines are actually hunting sheep, or opportunistically scavenging sheep remains, members of the Ovis genus are likely an important food source.

Speaking of chasing things, both F3 and M57 dropped the collars that we put on them this spring. I’ll be headed out on Saturday to try to retrieve M57’s collar, a last hurrah for this wolverine season before I leave for Mongolia on June 17th. I’ve never been on a collar retrieval before, but I understand that they can become exasperating, even when the collar is still sending out a signal and you can use telemetry to help find it. So keep your fingers crossed for a successful hunt and useful information once we get the collar back to the office.