Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Project – Evaluating the Impact of Increasing Human Activities in Alpine Habitats (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming)

Project #: 1796  –   Updated: January 17, 2011

Project Summary

The Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Program was initiated in 2001. Our goal was to conduct the first telemetry-based field study of wolverine ecology in the Yellowstone Region in order to provide facts that would assist State and Federal managers in making more informed management decisions for the species. To date, the eight years of collaborative effort that this program represents have resulted in the capture and monitoring of 38 individual wolverines. From these wolverines we have made great strides toward understanding the basic ecology and demographics of the species at the southern...

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Location (by county):
["", "Wheatland County (MT), ", "Meagher County (MT), ", "Lincoln County (WY), ", "Sublette County (WY), ", " (show more)", "Cascade County (MT), ", "Stillwater County (MT), ", "Carbon County (MT), ", "Sweet Grass County (MT), ", "Judith Basin County (MT), ", "Granite County (MT), ", "Jefferson County (ID), ", "Park County (MT), ", "Madison County (ID), ", "Jefferson County (MT), ", "Lemhi County (ID), ", "Teton County (WY), ", "Bingham County (ID), ", "Beaverhead County (MT), ", "Bear Lake County (ID), ", "Fremont County (WY), ", "Clark County (ID), ", "Madison County (MT), ", "Sweetwater County (WY), ", "Teton County (ID), ", "Gallatin County (MT), ", "Silver Bow County (MT), ", "Broadwater County (MT), ", "Hot Springs County (WY), ", "Lewis and Clark County (MT), ", "Caribou County (ID), ", "Fremont County (ID), ", "Park County (WY), ", "Powell County (MT), ", "Deer Lodge County (MT), ", "Bonneville County (ID)", " (show less)"]

Watersheds:
Madison

Congressional Districts:
MT District 00, WY District 00, ID District 02

Bird Conservation Regions:
Northern Rockies

USFWS Regions:
Mountain Prairie Region, Pacific Region

Project size:
36146777.39 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
Site 1 Yes

Full Project Description

The Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Program was initiated in 2001. Our goal was to conduct the first telemetry-based field study of wolverine ecology in the Yellowstone Region in order to provide facts that would assist State and Federal managers in making more informed management decisions for the species. To date, the eight years of collaborative effort that this program represents have resulted in the capture and monitoring of 38 individual wolverines. From these wolverines we have made great strides toward understanding the basic ecology and demographics of the species at the southern periphery of its global distribution. Overall, we have significantly improved the understanding of wolverine cause specific survival rates, reproduction, habitat use, reproductive denning habitat, activity pattern, density, and dispersal here in the contiguous U.S to assist Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming Game and Fish Departments, the US Forest Service, and the National Park Service in their State Wildlife Action, County Land Use, and National Forest Plans.

We presented these results to over 30 biologists and managers representing 2 Universities and 7 federal and state management agencies from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Sweden when we organized and hosted The First Greater Yellowstone Wolverine Workshop. The focus of the workshop was to present project data in a manner that would provide state and federal managers from Greater Yellowstone and beyond with a foundation for developing conservation strategies for wolverines specifically regarding the geographic scale over which management strategies must be designed in order to be successful and where wolverine habitat exists. Our goal was to present managers with the most current wolverine information and provide a format where they could develop ideas on what a collaborative, landscape-level conservation strategy would look like for wolverines. An important outcome of this workshop was the concept of the ‘Central Linkage Ecosystem’ (CLE), an area of private and public land that lies between the three major ecosystems in the Northern Rocky Mountain States and which is critical to wolverine metapopulation persistence. Workshop participants agreed that a proactive, science-based conservation efforts in the Central Linkage Ecosystem is critical to the wolverine metapopulation because of the area’s geography related to dispersal and the nature of it’s land ownership. Furthermore, collaborative solutions for retaining open space in areas where increasing levels of development could inhibit wolverine dispersal will be key to management actions. For these reasons, we have moved into a new phase of work where we will focus our research efforts in the Central Linkage Ecosystem. We have worked with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Idaho Fish and Game to obtain permits for wolverine capture in these new areas. Additional coordination efforts are ongoing.

Project Assistance & Partnership Opportunities

Funding

We currently have personnel and financial resources available to survey for presence of reproductive females and radio-monitoring juvenile wolverines to determine critical reproductive denning habitat characteristics and map travel corridors of dispersal aged wolverines in portions of the Central Linkage Ecosystem during Spring 2009. These areas along with the den detection areas are unlikely to fully utilize our personnel time. Thus we have experienced personnel that can be dedicated to den surveys during March-May, but are currently limited by our budget for flight time. Additional funding for flights and cameras this spring could yield exceptional results. If you are interested in surveying a particular area please contact us.

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Public Benefit
Conservation Mission

Primary goals:

WCS Wolverine Program Phase II Goals I.SECURE CONNECTIVITY •Predict wolverine linkage zones and develop methods for ranking their relative significance. •Test predicted linkages with GPS data from dispersing wolverines. •Work with local communities, land trust organizations, and local, state and federal governments to find solutions for maintaining open space that provides connectivity. •Inform Transportation Departments of areas where wolverines are most likely to cross roads. II.INFORM WOLVERINE METAPOPULATION MANAGEMENT •Develop technique to survey predicted habitat for wolverine presence, occupancy by reproductive female wolverines, and genetic samples. •Obtain Central Linkage Ecosystem specific data on population size, reproductive rates, survival rates, and genetics. •Continue to compile critical data on denning habitat and the effects of winter recreation. III. DEVELOP MONITORING TECHNIQUE •Test the effectiveness of monitoring the wolverine population with an index of documented reproductions (possibly during established ungulate population surveys conducted by state wildlife agencies) and/or genetic samples obtained during den-surveys.
Progress:

I. SECURE CONNECTIVITY
1. We have begun placing GPS collars on dispersal aged wolverines to collect detailed information on dispersal routes

II.INFORM WOLVERINE METAPOPULATION MANAGEMENT

1. In Spring 2008 we began testing use of fixed-wing aircraft to determine presence and occupancy of reproductive females - we sampled 8 mountain ranges and located 3 potential reproductive den sites - 2 of which were confirmed. This may seem a small sample but prior to initiation of this project only 2 reproductive den sites were documented in the lower 48, since that time we have documented 5 reproductive den sites. The 2009 den season is currently underway and and we will continue to test this technique and increase our sample of data on demographics and denning habitat.

2. We provided a report to state and federal agencies in December regarding results to date and future plans.


Consistent with plans:

Forest Plan
State Wildlife Action Plan
Local Land Use Plan

Targeted habitats:

    • Forests and Woodlands
      • Mixed Hardwoods and Conifer
    • Special Types
      • Cliff and Canyon

Targeted species:

  • Wolverine Gulo gulo

Actions

Project Actions
Vertebrate monitoring Show/Hide details
Adjust/control harvest of native species Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

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Organization

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Robert Inman  (Project Director)
Wildlife Conservation Society
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Partners

  • Idaho Fish and Game
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks
  • Wyoming Game and Fish
  • Caribou-Targhee National Forest
  • Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
  • Gallatin National Forest
  • Bridger-Teton National Forest
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Grand Teton National Park

Project Photos

Photos were not provided.

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