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Thursday, August 1, 2013

To Catch a Wolverine in Washington’s Wilderness

by Teddi McFall

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, but to me, a summer intern here at Washington Wild, the pictures I help collect leave my friends speechless. This summer as a hobby with my boyfriend, I set up cameras to capture pictures of wildlife around Washington State.

A common interest in environmental science and the outdoors brought Rob Holbrook and me together. We both enjoy being in and studying nature, as we are both working towards bachelors degrees in Environmental Science at UW and WWU.

Edmonds Community College’s LEAF school program taught Rob how to track and set up wildlife cameras. These cameras use motion sensors as well as infrared light to take pictures of moving animals in day or night. Rob soon bought his own wildlife camera and included me in creating a blog to post the pictures we wanted to capture.

A bear wanders into the view of the camera
Our blog, “Wolverines of Washington,” is a fun project we are doing this summer aimed at collecting pictures of fauna that we normally cannot see while hiking. The ultimate goal is to capture a picture of a wolverine, a muscular hunter-scavenger of the weasel family that under a current proposal, may be declared an endangered species. This animal is adapted to snowy, high elevation regions and is facing large threats due to climate change. Therefore, we make finding one of these rare animals the ultimate accomplishment for our blog.

In order to find the large, charismatic fauna that we are looking for (bears, wolves, wolverines, etc.), we use research reports to find the ranges of the animals and at what elevations to find them. Using this information, we find areas that will give us the best results and hike up the camera, bait (chicken legs), a bait casing (made of chicken wire and zip ties), a hammer, nails, and red fox urine to work as lure. We usually look for signs animals have been in the area like tracks, fur, or tree markings. After nailing down or hanging the bait and casing, we attach the camera to a tree and leave it there for at least 2 weeks.

The massive anticipation while hiking back up to retrieve the camera is what makes this project so exciting. It’s after you actually see these animals in their habitat that you realize how important protecting them really is. We hope to spread awareness of species’ habitat depletion as well as wildland protection through the pictures we collect. Not everyone wants to find bear markings or take pictures of mountain beavers, but it is something I am proud of and am learning a lot from this summer. 


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