Wolverine Research Partnership Expands Study Area

Contact: Laura Pramuk (208) 634-0784 cell: (208) 634-6945



McCall, ID - The second year of the Central Idaho Wolverine and Winter Recreation Research Project on the Payette National Forest began just after the New Year. The research team shut down their traps in mid-February so as not to disrupt denning and re-opened them in mid-March. The extent of the study was expanded this year to include more area around Burgdorf on the Payette National Forest (PNF) and also the Warm Lake drainage on the Boise National Forest (BNF). The team also began a preliminary study that includes recreation monitoring and DNA sampling of wolverines in the Stanley area on the Sawtooth National Forest. The Team is comprised of a crew of 12 full-time and part-time technicians and volunteers based in McCall and Stanley, Idaho. Four volunteer interns have committed four months to the project which is a huge help. The interns have traveled here from as far away as Maine and Georgia. This year’s field season will continue through the end of April.

The team has 10 animals ‘on the air’, with all 6 of last year’s animals being recaptured along with 4 new animals. They re-captured Larry, the big resident male that was captured last year in the Hazard Lakes-Granite Lake area, and Sid and Mo who sometimes travel through the Lick Creek area. Lilly, Lucy, and Bella were also re-captured and are in good health. In fact, the team suspects that Lucy may have had kits last year and they’ve captured and collared Jenny, who may be her daughter. The team will be testing her DNA to confirm her parentage. The team has captured two new males: Sergio in the Hazard Lakes-Granite Lakes area and Mason in the Warm Lake area. A new adult female has also been collared. Tess was captured in the Warm Lake area and the team is pleased to have a female from this study area. In addition to these 10 animals that were collared as part of the study, the team just recently captured a new female in the Secesh area but she was not collared as the field season will soon be over.

The team is now using a new satellite based trap transmitter which sends email messages with trap status daily and immediately when a trap is triggered. This is a big improvement and is resulting in less stress for the animals and quicker responses from the team.

The team is fairly certain that Lilly, Lucy and Jenny are not denning this year. They are not sure if Bella is denning as they have just recently found her about 25 miles south of where she was trapped and are still attempting to gather additional information on her. Tess is denning, and the team is pleased with this development.

Recreation monitoring is a critical part of the study and has kept the team busy with expanded monitoring down in the Warm Lake area. It has been on-going all year thanks to help from over 700 people who carried dataloggers while they recreated and then turned them in at parking lot drop boxes or one of the several local businesses that accept them. The intensity of recreation monitoring has been greater and over a larger study area as compared to last year and the team is very appreciative of the people that are willing to help by carrying dataloggers. In addition, the team completed an aerial recreation survey across the extent of the PNF and BNF study areas in early March and they hope to complete one over the Stanley area during the next patch of clear weather.

This year the project has experienced higher loss of dataloggers, and the team had to order more units to get through the winter recreation season. It remains important for people to turn in the units so that the team has data from the entire winter recreation season. All data collected remains anonymous and the team does not take any personal information from the dataloggers. Participation is voluntary. In fact businesses are offering incentives to people who turn in their datalogging unit. Fourteen businesses in McCall, Cascade, and New Meadows are offering everything from a free beer to a free cinnamon roll for bringing in a unit. For a list of participating businesses please go to www.forestcarnivores.org and click the wolverine tab.

Local community support has been phenomenal. In fact, after the big snowfall in mid-January team members had concerns about their ability to break trail into some of the more remote trap areas. The team contacted Sandra Mitchell at the Idaho Snowmobile Association, who gave them the names of some expert McCall area sledders. Through this contact the team found a rider who was able to get them to a couple of the harder to reach traps. The team has developed a list of expert riders who could help break trail on big snow days. It has been a great experience for the team to meet and ride with area sledders and for the sledders to experience some of the most beautiful areas of the forest while doing a good deed. If you are interested in helping out please email idahowolverine@gmail.com.

If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating animal and this ground breaking research visit www.forestcarnivores.org under the wolverine tab. All project newsletters, updates and documents are available to the public via the website. Project Partners are: The Rocky Mountain Research Station, Valley County, Round River Conservation Studies, Brundage Mountain Resort, Central Idaho Recreation Coalition, Idaho State Snowmobile Association, The University of Montana, The Wolverine Foundation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, The Southwest Idaho Resource Advisory Committee, and The U.S. Forest Service.

image of wolverine eating bait in front of trap
One of the Stanley Wolverines