Wolverines | Glacier National Park, Montana
Overview of this Wildlife Watching Landscape
The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park may be the best place in the world to spot a wolverine, says Jeff Copeland, a renowned expert on this elusive member of the weasel family. "They thrive here because there’s great sub-alpine habitat and so many prey species, such as mountain goats, marmots, and squirrels.”
Wolverines follow their nose, and one inquisitive animal followed his into our Wildlife Remote Video Series.
The wolverine may not be beautiful, but it is a thing of beauty, says photographer Chris Peterson. Peterson has spent many summers hiking Glacier National Park's backcountry. In 2009, he took on a one hundred days in Glacier National Park project and captured a photo once a day for one hundred days. During his time he remembers watching a wolverine dig for a frozen mountain goat, buried in an avalanche. Click HERE to view a sampling of photos from his journey.
Wildlife Remote is a video series using remote video footage captured by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of a massive grizzly bear census. In addition to fascinating footage of grizzly bears, the remote-sensor cameras captured images of wolverine, wolves, red fox, deer, and pine marten, among other critters.
The video footage of Glacier wildlife in 2005-2007 was taken unbeknownst to the animals. USGS had set up remote cameras in strategic locations suspected to be key wildlife movement zones.
Kate's ambitious and successful project developed a DNA-based census of grizzly bears on the Montana side of the Crown of the Continent. Her team captured genetic samples using bait-scented, barbed-wire snag traps and traditional bear rub trees, which sometimes are used by successive generations of bears.
The remote cameras are used by researchers in a few locations to verify whether all bear visitors actually leave a hair sample and to photographically document the behavior of grizzlies and wildlife near hair-capture sites.
An excellent multi-year wolverine study has been undertaken by biologists Jeff Copeland and Rick Yates, with steady support from Dan Savage, Marci Johnson, Kate Wilmot, Rebecca Hadwin. Buck Hasson, Doug Chadwick, and other volunteers. Their study of 23 wolverines has produced more information about this rare animal than perhaps any ever conducted.
News and Background Links
From the wolverine's perspective, the age of climate change does not bode well in the Crown of the Continent. Females den and raise their kits in the tunnels of alpine snowfields. Less snow and more rain strip them of critical winter shelter. Read more at https://www.npca.org/articles/1029-on-a-ledge.
Missoulian reporter Michael Jamison wrote about wolverines in August 2009 http://www.missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/article_46e269ae-863a-11de-a409-001cc4c002e0.html