February 4, 2011

Winter for Wolverines

Ski touring today with friends, on a windy bench at treeline, we saw only one set of tracks: wolverine!  They had to have been fairly fresh because we could still see the occasional clear paw print despite what was fast becoming a blizzard.

We've already written one Facebook post about all the wolverine "things" that have recently appeared in our lives -- a book and TV documentary -- and here's another: Wolverine Watch.  Our neighbour, Ben, is one of the lead researchers.  We hope to go out one day with him to help put stinky beavers on the sides of trees, or to check the remote cameras he puts up to capture any animal that investigates.

Ben showed us some incredible shots he's already got.  They should be up on the Wolverine Watch website soon.  Meanwhile, the website is a place for us locals to add our sightings using an interactive map.  I just entered my first one with these tracks today!

Wolverine research is notoriously challenging because of this animal's amazing ability to move with ease in mountainous terrain.  We don't know a lot about wolverines in the Canadian Rockies.  This citizen science and research project should help Banff National Park get a better handle on one of our most elusive predators.