Backcountry Wolverine Watchers
It’s not every day that you get to see a wolverine. In fact, wolverine sightings are extremely rare, even if you live in wolverine habitat. That’s why Defenders of Wildlife is teaming up with other organizations and enlisting the help of outdoor enthusiasts, backcountry users and wolverine fans across western North America to report any wolverine sightings or observations of wolverine tracks. If you are traveling in the backcountry within the Crown of the Continent region and see a wolverine or wolverine track, we want to hear about it. And the Backcountry Wolverine Watchers project makes it pretty simple.
Several research institutes have reporting pages on their websites that gather observational data on wolverines. These observations provide helpful baseline information for biologists in the U.S. and Canada about one of North America’s least-known carnivores. Defenders of Wildlife is working to help these organizations collect more observations, as we’re always working to raise awareness about the magnificent wolverine and its proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.
One handy thing about the elusive wolverine — just like anything else walking in the snow — they leave tracks behind! So again, if you’re way up high in snowy, mountainous terrain and come across a five-toed track (canines and cats have 4 toes), look more closely. Characteristics of a wolverine track include: 4-inch wide print; five toes, chevron-shaped interdigital pad, and oval-shaped heel pad; and prints are close together compared to those of a wolf, lynx, or mountain lion since wolverines have shorter legs.
Again, most importantly, photograph the track so others can verify it. Make sure you include something in it for size scale (like keys, cell phone, pen or coins). Measure or estimate the size of individual prints and distance between tracks (length and width between tracks). Describe the track, the snow conditions and time since last snow, note time and date, and locate the area on a map – ideally, take a GPS point.
If you’re lucky enough to see a wolverine track or a wolverine itself, please then report it to the relevant site:
If you’re in the western U.S., go to The Wolverine Foundation. (http://wolverinefoundation.org/)
If you’re in Canada, go to Wolverine Watch. (http://www.wolverinewatch.org/)
If you’re in Wyoming, go to Nature Mapping: Wolverine Project. (http://www.naturemappingjh.org/wolverine-project.aspx)
Host or Sponsoring Group for Experience: Defenders of Wildlife
Appropriate Ages for Experience: All Ages