Canadian Wolverines, Glacier DNA, and a Wildlife Symposium

Last week several hundred people gathered at the Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming, for the Jackson Hole Wildlife Symposium, a semi-annual event that addresses the future of wildlife in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Several of the speakers discussed the importance of considering long-range movements of species like wolverines in conservation planning, and I was fortunate enough to have an entire half hour to get up and talk about my favorite subject. The symposium was not open to the public and there was limited registration, with a fee, and sold out early, so I didn’t advertise the event here. But I’ll post an outline of my talk later this week for people who were not able to attend, since the presentation dovetails with a post I’ve been promising to write for some time – themes about the role of science, and particular scientific critiques, that emerged from the listing situation and that conservationists should be attentive to as we move into a world where climate change is a major threat to wildlife.

In the meantime, though, there have been a few wolverine-related news items over the past week or so.

First, Canada is considering listing wolverines as a species of concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Canada maintains extensive trapping seasons on wolverines, and scientists have not observed a population decline, but the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada is concerned about the impacts of increasingly fragmented habitat at the southern extent of the wolverine’s Canadian range, as well as the risk posed by climate change. Listing an animal as a ‘species of concern’ places it in a category that recognizes future threats that might cause a population decline. Species in the midst of a population decline are listed as threatened or endangered, a status of higher concern and more immediate action. The current discussion seems to have been motivated by concerns about wolverines in Nunavut, and hunters and trappers across northern Canada have been asked to submit their comments by January 15th. Here, I have to plead guilty to not being as aware as I should be about how wildlife policy works in Canada, and I don’t know how a listing might effect things like trapping, so I’ll do some research and keep readers posted when I find out more. It will be interesting to see how the listing situation develops in Canada, in comparison to the US.

Second, the results of a multi-year wolverine DNA study in Glacier National Park are in. The study was a low-cost, non-invasive follow-up to Jeff Copeland’s 2003-2008 collar study. From 2009 to 2012, park biologist John Waller and a team of 50 volunteers – including wolverine-in-human-form and author of The Wolverine Way Doug Chadwick – set up grids of baited hair snares across the park, and the hairs were then analyzed for DNA. The number of snares varied by year, but the study identified 17 individual animals in total (six of which were recaptures from the Copeland study), estimating a total population of 36 wolverines within the park. This yields a fairly high average density of 13 animals per 386 square miles (compared to a low of 3.5 wolverines per 386 square miles in the Yellowstone system, and a high of 17 wolverines per 386 square miles in Canada’s Northwest Territories.) The study also revealed that as of 2012, Glacier Park’s ultimate badass wolverine, M3, was still alive, giving some valuable information on a the lifespan of a wild wolverine.

Finally, in the world of captive wolverines, the oil company Phillips 66 is donating $50,000 to the Billings Zoo to build a new wolverine enclosure, as the zoo hopes to exhibit and maybe breed wolverines. Interesting to see an oil company donating money to a zoo for a climate-sensitive species. Phillips 66 is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying organization that submitted 175 pages worth of oppositional commentary on the wolverine listing decision, so while I always applaud corporate social responsibility – in this case, the Billings refinery spokeswoman expressed a commendable commitment to environmental education – I also respectfully submit that a systems approach to environment and conservation would be more effective.

That’s it for now, but now that I’ve finished up some other major writing work, and interesting wolverine news is astir on the Mongolia front, I’ll be updating more regularly again. In the meantime, if you’re in wolverine country, get out into the mountains, enjoy the winter weather, and let me know if you see any sign of the world’s most inspiring weasel.

 

 

 

 

 

The Wolverene Woman

Here is a story from the Blackfeet (also known as the Blackfoot, Piegan, Blood, and/or Pikuni, depending on where and during what time period they are being referred to) of northern Montana and southern Alberta. The current Blackfeet Reservation lies just to the east of Glacier National Park, which was originally the heart of Blackfeet territory. For wolverines, too, Glacier is the heart of home in the US. This short tale is taken from Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians, by Clark Wissler and D.C. Duvall, first published in 1908 by the American Museum of Natural History, and republished in 1995 by the University of Nebraska Press. The story is found on page 162:

The Wolverene-Woman

These Indians have a belief that there are animals with power to change into human beings. Of these the wolverene is one. It often happens that when a man is out hunting, or sitting alone by his campfire, a very handsome woman will come up. Now if he offers her some of the entrails from his butchering, she will take them daintily between the thumb and the forefinger and then throw them away. This is the sign by which she may be known. Should the man take up his gun, the woman will run away as a wolverene. On the other hand, should he allow her to come into camp and engage in familiarities, evil will follow. As soon as he gets home and smells the fire of the lodges, he will fall down dead. Sometimes he will only faint when he smells the fire of the lodges; but even then he will never be the same person again. When men go out to hunt, they are often reminded to keep a lookout for the Wolverene-Woman. When a woman is out alone, the Wolverene-Woman will appear as a fine young man. If the woman permits herself to be seduced, it will be bad for her. As a rule, her people will never hear of her again; but, should she start back to camp and smell the fire of the lodges, she will surely die.

Footnote: ….This is not a formal narrative. While the wolverene is a well-known mythical character, there are no specific myths in which it appears. The Deer-woman of the Dakota and the Wolf Woman of the Pawnee, described by Bush Otter, seem to embody the same conception as is expressed in the above….

Wissler was an anthropologist, and Duvall was half-Piegan and was Wissler’s agent in the field; together, they spent many years collecting and analyzing stories from Montana and Alberta. This is the only mention of the Wolverene Woman, however, and it is tantalizingly brief, with no explanation aside from the footnote. Why wolverines? Among the numerous stories of men or women who fall in love with and marry non-humans (star people, bison, bears), why are wolverines uniquely dangerous creatures with whom to – in the polite Victorian idiom – “engage in familiarities?” How is it that the Wolverene Woman may also become a man? (And as an aside, Blackfeet women must have been admirably adventurous if they were hanging out alone in high mountainous regions where they might have been in danger of seduction-by-gender-bending-shape-shifting-wolverine. Wissler does mention the egalitarian nature of Blackfeet society, but it would be nice to know more about this, too.)

To apply my own biased, acontextual lens, perhaps it simply speaks to the fascination that the species can evoke. I’m struck by the assertion that once a person associates with a wolverine – never mind the precise nature of the familiarities; these days, photographing or collaring or even just seeing one in the wild probably counts – s/he “will never be the same person again.” I know too many people for whom this has proven true. The lesson of the Blackfeet story stands: be wary of the wolverine. One way or another, the animal can change your life.

 

Wolverine World Tour, and Wolverines Near Glacier Park(s)

It’s mid-March, the grizzlies are up and about, and wolverine research season is drawing to a close. Wolverine kits all over the Rockies (and presumably the world) are marking their one-month birthdays, and wolverine researchers are gearing up for the tasks that can be accomplished during the snow-free months – investigating GPS collar food sites and exploring possible den locations, trekking back to Mongolia to interview herders and explore summer snow-patch methods for finding tracks, writing up the winter’s results, and, of course, preparing for next season’s work.

Among the interesting projects in store this summer, Evergreen College student Dallas LaDucer is preparing for a Wolverine World Tour to study the interactions of captive wolverines in zoos around the world. As a researcher and as a writer, the wolverine fixation can be challenging, because we have very few opportunities to interact face-to-face with wolverines. The animal’s elusiveness is part of its mystique, but it also leaves us with big gaps in both scientific understanding and compelling narrative about individual animals. Dallas, on the other hand, is one of the fortunate people who get to spend a lot of time with actual wolverines. From raising a captive female kit, to working as a zookeeper, to his current senior project investigating the interactions of wolverines to better understand their body language and social life, he’s spent a lot of time with gulos, and has observed that interactions vary according to the individual personalities of the animals, as opposed to strict gender or age hierarchies. He has looked at only a very small sample, however, because so few zoos in North America have more than one captive wolverine. His senior project will take him to Europe to watch wolverines in zoos in Russia, Finland, and Sweden. The major application of the work may be to help zookeepers better understand how to care for captive animals, but more knowledge about wolverine sociability could also inform conservation efforts. And, from an authorial perspective, I simply want to know more about what makes individual wolverines tick, because that information helps make good stories. So there are a lot of reasons to be interested in this project, and I am eager to hear how things go. Dallas is fundraising for the project here, so if anyone is interested in contributing, check it out.

A few other news items of interest have, as usual, slipped by me in the rush of activity that comes with spring. Skiers at Whitefish outside of Glacier National Park, Montana, should keep their eyes open for a wolverine that was spotted there earlier this week. Keep a camera handy too and maybe someone will be lucky enough to get a photo of a wild wolverine. Meanwhile, in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Canada (not to be confused with the previously mentioned Glacier National Park, Montana) a wolverine photographed and videoed itself playing with a rope or cable that was part of a camera-trapping effort. It’s a brief glimpse of the wolverine’s playful side, although one of the scientists involved with the Trans-Canada Highway study, of which this particular camera-trap was a part, apparently takes issue with the notion of anthropomorphizing wolverines to the point of admitting that they play. In an article on the project in the Revelstoke Times Review, scientist Kelsey Furk states that she thinks that the rope was just smelly and therefore drew the wolverine’s attention, although no one seems to object to the repeated reference to the wolverine “dancing” with the rope. Play behavior has been demonstrated in many mammal species and I’m pretty convinced that wolverines not only enjoy messing around with stuff for the sake of messing around with it, but that they also have a particular mustelid sense of humor. I’m spending enough time playing with a 20-month-old human boy these days to understand that flinging a smelly rope around in the snow is no less intellectually edifying (and, in fact, is perhaps more so) than repeatedly plugging in and unplugging various electronics. Bottom line: if the kid’s behavior counts as play, so does the wolverine’s.

On a more serious note, the article about the Trans-Canada Highway project highlights an important study that will help us better understand the effects of transportation corridors on wolverines. The journalist repeats a few things as fact, however, that are actually still speculative. The most important is the idea that wolverines are disturbed by recreation. There are limited anecdotal suggestions that this might be true, but there’s also an intimation from on-going research that it might not be true. We still don’t know.Until we do, we need to be careful about the claims that we make.

Parks Canada is asking people who see tracks in this area to report them to wolverine2012@pc.gc.ca You can find a copy of the NRCC track ID info and other details about the study here.  A downloadable version of a pocket-sized track ID card is available at the NRCC website (.pdf)

Wolverine News and Volunteer Opportunities

A quick review of wolverine news over the past week, as well as a volunteer opportunity for the coming weeks:

Wolverines made the news in Calgary, Canada, with a short video piece on a study of the impacts of the Trans-Canada highway on the species. The segment contains some photos of camera-trapped wolverines, and highlights a different camera-trap method from the one employed by Audrey Magoun in Oregon.

Earlier this week, I had an interesting conversation with Forrest McCarthy, who is the public lands director at Winter Wildlands Alliance and who has worked with several wolverine projects in the past. He pointed me to two interesting sites.  Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is an organization dedicated to combining adventure in the wild with intellectual stimulation and exploration. In association with Wild Things Unlimited, ASC is hosting a wolverine and lynx tracking workshop from February 3-5.  Information is available here; at last glance, they still had room for volunteers. The work will take place on the Gallatin and Helena National Forests and requires solid backcountry skills.

Forrest also suggested that I check out Bedrock and Paradox, a blog maintained by Dave Chenault, who works with the ongoing Glacier National Park DNA and camera study. Some of the entries deal with the wolverine work (the most recent here), and the rest with interesting questions about outdoor gear and existential crisis (not necessarily always linked….) He’s a good writer and an interesting thinker, and since Doug Chadwick doesn’t have a blog, this might be the best way to keep up with events in Glacier gulo land.

The Idaho Panhandle wolverine project has stepped up its PR with regular blog updates every Wednesday – be sure to check these out, as they also offer the opportunity to keep up with an on-going project, as well as  insight into such esoterica as how to deal with a gigantic shipment of skinned beavers. Another account is available from the Idaho Conservation League. All of these pieces on wolverine work are heartening; it’s great that people are so inspired.

Finally, here’s an article from the New York Times on why introverts need solitude in order to do their best work. Is this related to wolverines? Kind of, because wolverines are the Solitary Creature par excellence, and, as a raging introvert, that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with them immediately. I’ll avoid the very long exploration of these connections and my own personal feelings about people who don’t understand the introvert mode of creativity, but suffice to say that this is on my mind because I’ve been having some issues (from the time I first went to kindergarten right on up through last week….) with people who think that doing good work and being a decent human being rely on formulaic group interactions and enforced collegiality. For people who truly are introverts, the choice is clear: do mediocre work by engaging in these enforced situations and keeping your own impulses suppressed, or do brilliant work by embracing the gulo model of existence and scaling the peaks that need to be scaled. I am not a creature of the lowlands, and I am not a herd animal, so I really appreciate public attention to this issue of different ways of getting things done. I know that associating this issue with wolverines is purely totemic, but once in a while it’s okay to admit that our fascination with the natural world is about the reflections and lessons that its features (and creatures) invoke.

Doug Chadwick on Wolverines in the Lower 48

As a quick foreword, I completely failed at this live blogging experiment. I’m too meticulous (neurotic?) a writer, I suspect, to respond to circumstances unedited. The below was written in real-time, but a medical incident in the middle of the speech threw everything off and I didn’t get around to posting until today. If you never have a chance to see Doug Chadwick speak live, hopefully this will give you some idea of how entertaining he is. 

With promises to catch up on the two remaining talks that occurred earlier today, I’m going to cover Doug Chadwick’s speech, which is about to start. He and I had a great conversation earlier this afternoon, during which I promised that if he got anything wrong, I would mercilessly make fun of him on this blog. So he’s under a lot of pressure….

Beginning with a reading from his book, Doug speaks first to the desire that many of us have to be humbled by our experiences in the natural world, and then adds that you don’t know what it is to be humbled by nature until you’ve tried to follow a wolverine. He tells the story of his background with the project, how he got involved as a way to be outside in the landscape he loves, and how he eventually became so compelled by the species that he decided to write a book about them.

A pause. Then, looking towards the GYC staff, “Can I say badass? I like saying it.”

Now the humor ramps up and the slide show kicks in. We are hearing the story of the traditional view of wolverines – their awful reputation, the lack of scientific data, the adoption of gulo identity by a badass superhero with anger management issues.

“The things that are true about wolverines that seem like myths – they bring down full grown caribou…and they’ve been reported bringing down full grown moose. It’s like you open your curtain in the morning, and look out, and your housecat has got a deer. But they do that. The other thing that’s been reported by reliable people is, they will drive a grizzly off a kill. That’s scientifically known as ‘unmitigated badass behavior.'”

We are hearing the story of F5, the young female who climbed Bearhat Mountain in Glacier National Park in the dead of winter for no apparent reason. We are seeing photos of researchers in wild conditions – blizzards, blowing snow, 90 mph winds. The audience is rapt, leaning forward, some with their mouths literally open. (Though one guy, across the table, appears to be asleep; either that, or he’s closing his eyes to better envision the deprivations of wolverine research…) Doug describes the sound of a wolverine growl: “It’s like a Harley Davidson is mating with a chain saw, and you’re pretty sure that whatever is in the trap is the size of a velociraptor. Okay, I’m kidding, but these things are designed to intimidate.”

Doug goes on to describe conversations about wolverines with trappers in the region.

“So, we’d talk with these trappers, who didn’t believe that we were catching them. They’d say, ‘these creatures are so secretive and so wily, we can’t even catch ’em once, and you’re saying that you catch them multiple times?’ And we’d say, “Well, we have a trick.” And the trappers’d say, “Yeah? What’s that?” And we’d say, “It’s easy. When we catch ’em, we don’t kill ’em.””

This gets a round of applause.

“So, what is this animal?…It’s a member of the weasel family, but I don’t like that name, because unfaithful lovers and hedge fund managers are giving weasels such a bad name.” More laughs. Doug is going on to explain the physiological characteristics that make wolverines so unique – enlarged thyroid glands, enormous feet, and so on.

Now we’re on to climate change effects, not only the issue of snow denning, but the apparent preference that female wolverines show for locating den sites among whitebark pine downfall. Whitebark pine is, of course, suffering a massive die-off in the Rockies due to beetle infestations and disease, part of which can certainly be attributed to warming temperatures.

The compelling story of Jeff Copreland’s hunch that gulo dads were getting a bad rap draws exclamations, and then further exclamations, and then we realize that some of the exclamations are from a table where a woman has collapsed. 911 is called, we all take a break, and I sit with my fingers crossed that in the excitement of picturing all of the crazy activity that Doug’s been describing, wolverines haven’t actually killed someone after all. The paramedics arrive and the woman responds and we all breathe easier as the presentation resumes.

Doug picks up with the full-on climate change segment, referencing Dan Fagre’s work on climate change in Glacier National Park, monitoring of retreating glaciers and climbing tree lines. “So the wolverine is going to tell us the same thing, but maybe in a more dramatic way, as the pika and the mountain goats and the hoary marmots. Their range is going to be constricted.”

“What makes Glacier whole is the knowledge that it is animated by wolverines traveling the landscape, bears sleeping under the snow….it’s not just a list of animals, it’s the fact that they’re all interacting with each other, that there’s a full carnivore community in place.”

The story of M1 climbing Mount Cleveland, 5000 ft in 90 mins, draws the usual gasps and laughs of disbelief. And then the statistics on how few wolverines a place like Glacier, with 1500 square miles, will hold. 350 grizzlies live in Glacier; by contrast, there’s room for about 40 wolverines in the same area. The Tetons are saturated with wolverines; we think that there are maybe four residents adults. The Centennials, according to WCS biologist Bob Inman, hold two adult females. The Cascades hold eight wolverines of which we are aware. The point that Doug is making is that connectivity between these tiny population nodes is critical for the long-term survival of the species.  Isolated parks will not be enough; there must be connectivity throughout the mountain ranges of the West. “This is the scale on which [wolverines] need wildness to be preserved.”

This is the ultimate message of Doug’s speech – that we need to push conservation to a scale that is meaningful for wildlife that evolved in the vastness of the unbounded, unfenced, undeveloped North America, and that still needs that space today.

Healy Hamilton asks what we know about historical densities of wolverines, whether wolverines have always been so rare or whether their current sparsity is “an artifact of the way we’ve treated the landscape.” Doug says he’s not sure, that there’s really no way to know because, “we rolled across the continent so quickly.”

One gentleman asks what the body temperature of a wolverine is. The answer: “Around 100.”

Someone asks whether there are wolverines in the Wyoming Range. Doug turns the microphone over to me, inducing a sense of panic and a long, babbling story about the female born in the Winds who traveled to the Wyoming Range for a while but then went back to the Tetons.

Judging by the long line of people waiting to buy the book – not to mention the excited crowds of people who come to share stories of wolverine sightings with me – people are inspired by the talk and ready to learn more. Which is exactly what we were hoping for.

 

Non-invasive Methodology from Glacier to Mongolia

A great article looks at a new non-invasive wolverine monitoring effort in Glacier National Park. This effort, combining camera trapping and hair snaring, is a follow-up to Jeff Copeland and Rick Yates’ years of research in the Park, which were cut off just when the data was getting good. The Glacier Park study still represents the best dataset on wolverines in the Lower 48 – and it’s given us some of the most epic wolverine stories out there, including M3’s ascent of Mt. Cleveland and F4’s feats as the matriarch of Glacier – so it’s good to know that further efforts to obtain information about the animals are underway.  The project seems to accept volunteers, too, so if you are in the Glacier area and want to participate in a gulo study, this may be an opportunity. (Note that there are currently more volunteers – 50 – than the estimated number of study subjects in the park – 40. This seems a particularly stark illustration of the scarcity of the species.)

Posts here over the past few weeks have been sparse, and the Glacier article is a good introduction to the reasons for the paucity of writing: it’s research proposal season. I’ve spent the past three weeks with my mind in a knot, trying to work out some tricky questions about how to best collect information on Mongolian wolverines without ever touching – perhaps without ever even seeing – a live specimen. The crux of non-invasive work  lies in figuring out how to study the species at low cost, with minimal impact on the animal, and in ways that are appropriate to the study site. The work in Mongolia will build on Audrey Magoun’s camera work in Alaska, which, in turn, probably helped inspire the Glacier work. Except we’ll be doing it in Mongolia, where wolverines have never before been studied in even a rudimentary way, where infrastructure is non-existent, and where human cultural factors add a unique twist to wildlife research. This is why the process of adapting the methods has been so time-consuming.

After a 2010 summer field season that was successful beyond anticipation (albeit stressful as well) as we interviewed herders and hunters and got some solid information on Mongolian wolverine distribution, I’m excited about the prospect of returning to Mongolia to begin camera-trapping and DNA work. But a number of big questions remain. Time constraints last year meant that I was only able to visit three of five potentially important wolverine areas in Mongolia, leaving two to cover in summer 2011. And then, a week after I returned to the US, I received word that a London Zoological Society wildlife camera-trapping effort had caught a mother wolverine and two kits on camera in a location that I hadn’t previously considered. The images of the wolverine and her kits are stunning, captured at dusk as they rolled through a high, barren meadow, one of the kits pausing to put its face and paw to the camera. The wolverines were caught in the southern Altai, in the region where the mountains begin to shade into the Gobi Desert. It’s hardly what we would consider optimal habitat, and yet here we had conclusive proof that wolverines are actually breeding there. This site, too, warrants a visit. So one of the remaining tasks for getting the project up and running is to visit all three sites this summer and figure out which is the best – in terms of reported wolverine population, in terms of terrain, and in terms of social factors – for conducting a multi-year camera-trapping and DNA-gathering effort.

Site selection is the first step. Next, we had to devise a statistically defensible strategy for placing camera stations across the landscape in order to estimate wolverine population parameters. This sounds fairly straightforward but actually isn’t, especially when the size of your site is as-yet undetermined. The statistical acrobatics required to go from a camera-station grid, a certain number of photo-captures, and a bunch of DNA samples, to making even a rough determination of wolverine numbers in a given region, involve taking into account everything from the unknown size of wolverine use areas in the vicinity of the traps, to the response of individual wolverines to individual traps. This probably goes without saying, but it isn’t easy to turn wolverine personality traits into a mathematical equation.

If I’d had to figure this stuff out alone, I probably would have spent most of the last few weeks crying in frustration (or drinking heavily…). Luckily Audrey Magoun’s work in SE Alaska provided a starting place (information about the Alaska project is available at The Wolverine Foundation’s research page) for both the statistics, and for methods of constructing camera stations that will induce a wolverine to stand up and display its unique chest patch to the camera. A minor diversion involved figuring out what materials we would need to do adapt Magoun’s design to the realities of available goods in Mongolia; I spent a lot of time mentally touring Ulaanbaatar’s massive Narantuul market and trying to recall what was available.

The really challenging part of the Mongolia work is the social side, though. Mongolia has one of the lowest human population densities in the world, with something like 2.5 people per square mile (the average in the US is 87 per square mile.) But someone once pointed out that although Mongolians inhabit the landscape sparsely, they inhabit it very deeply – every mountain is sacred, every pasture is known and used, every remote route through the desert or the hills is traveled, every wildlife population exploited in some way. And wolverine habitat, which is  unoccupied by humans and rarely visited in the US, is occupied and utilized for livestock grazing throughout Mongolia.  Research and conservation in these habitats is as much a question of human behavior as it is of wolverine population parameters. Devising methods for incorporating communities into the work has also been a challenge, even though I’m confident that it can be done, and done well. And while we probably can’t count on 50 enthusiastic volunteers wanting to participate just because they think wolverines are rad, we probably can count on a degree of expert knowledge about the landscape and wildlife that is lacking in America. This will be a huge resource; we just need to determine how to utilize it in ways that are beneficial to us and to Mongolians.

The focus on non-invasive methods of wildlife research is new throughout the world, a shift away from the expensive, labor-intensive collaring work that’s traditionally told us about wildlife. Collar studies still have their place, yielding information that we simply can’t obtain from non-invasive work, and we do plan to eventually conduct a limited collar study in Mongolia. But in the meantime, I’m excited to be part of pioneering new methods, especially in a place like Mongolia, where low-input research methods will be necessary to keep track of wildlife beyond just wolverines.

So, research proposals submitted, and April almost here, we now have two months to plan for the June-August summer field season in Mongolia. Looking forward to getting back out there (though maybe not to being back in a Mongolian saddle, which are made of wood….) and continuing the search for Mongolia’s nokhoi zeekh, as part of a global effort that stretches all the way from Glacier to the Altai.

 

 

 

 

Wolverine Events in Colorado

For Boulder and Denver-area wolverine enthusiasts, two events next week offer the chance to meet Doug Chadwick, author of The Wolverine Way.

In Boulder, Chadwick will speak on Monday, December 6th, at 6 p.m. at the Integral Center on 2805 Broadway Ave. In Denver, he’ll speak on Tuesday, December 7th, at 6 p.m, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Copies of the book will be available, and the author will answer questions and sign books after the presentation.

A short video about the book features some great shots of majestic Glacier country, not to mention fantastic footage of wolverines being goofy and playful. Doug is a very entertaining speaker, and the book is excellent, so if you happen to be in the Denver area, be sure to attend.  If not, stay tuned for more information about wolverine events across the West this winter and spring, including opportunities to learn more about tracking and reporting track sightings, as well as a chance to participate in tracking field trips, with Jason Wilmot of NRCC and the Absaroka-Beartooth Project.

To whet your appetite for wolverine information, check out Conservation Media’s new short film on the Wolverine Foundation’s work, featuring an interview with Jeff Copeland –  a nice three-minute synopsis of what TWF does, and why wolverines are amazing. It’s great to see more multi-media information out there.

And speaking of tracks, here’s a post from Conservation Media from back in April, 2010, documenting a sighting of wolverine tracks crossing a highway in Montana. Note the inclusion of the author’s hand for scale, and the multiple photos of individual tracks as well as the gait – including some great shots of the distinctive three-by gait. This is excellent documentation. I thought I’d bring it to the attention of any citizen scientists out there, as an example of how to photograph wolverine tracks in a way that can be considered verified.