2016 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project report
Conservation Northwest / Apr 12, 2017 / Wildlife Monitoring
During the 2016 season, 82 volunteers in the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project installed and maintained cameras in 27 survey areas in Washington and British Columbia, contributing an estimated 4,850 volunteer hours.
Now in its tenth year, our Monitoring Project is one of the largest citizen-science efforts in the nation. Through our guidance, citizen-scientist volunteers work to monitor and document wildlife from the Washington Cascades to the Kettle Crest and into southern British Columbia. Confirming the presence of rare carnivores and other animals informs land management decisions upon which wildlife depend. It also helps guide our conservation programs and priorities, and those of state and federal agencies.
Over the course of the 2016 season, we detected 20 recordable species, with a high diversity of species observed at 12 survey areas. High-diversity survey areas documented these species: gray wolf, fisher, mountain lion, black bear, marten, bobcat, coyote, moose, mule deer, elk, Hoary marmot, striped and spotted skunk, raccoon, porcupine, snowshoe hare and smaller mammals.
Read on below for highlights from our monitoring season, or check out the full report here.
Highlights from this season include:
The continued documentation of wolverines in the North Cascades. These wolverines appear to be on the front lines of recovery for the species in our region. Wolverines were documented this year at Union Gap near Stevens Pass and Chiwawa north of Lake Wenatchee.
The Chiwaukum survey area near Leavenworth, primarily set to detect wolverines, has for two years running captured gray wolf events. The animal we documented in April 2016 was fitted with a GPS collar and determined by our advisers at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to be a member of the Teanaway Pack.
Although our volunteer teams recorded no Canada lynx, this August our partners from Washington State University were successful in documenting Canada lynx in the Kettle River Range near Sherman Pass in Washington, the first lynx documented through this partnership. These efforts contribute to furthering our collective knowledge and conservation efforts to protect this rare and sensitive species in northeast Washington.
Fishers were documented at two survey areas, Bumping Lake and Lone Butte. As part of our fisher reintroduction efforts in the Cascades of Washington state, these individuals have internal radio transmitters providing location information. However, the photo documentation provides our partners at WDFW visual evidence of the health of the animal at the date the photo was taken. We expect our Wildlife Monitoring efforts to play a role in coming years documenting the presence of fishers and especially offspring from reintroduced adults that do not carry locating devices.
American martens were recorded at six different survey areas in the Cascades, a sign of high-quality late successional forest habitat nearby where martens often den and hunt. While not a target species for our project, data collected on martens is shared with our Advisory Council members carrying out research on martens.
Animals documented at I-90 survey areas for the 2016 season were of particular interest due to the completion of two wildlife underpasses at Gold Creek in 2014, leading to an increased opportunity for movement of wildlife. Cameras set up near Easton recorded presence of seven different species in habitat adjacent to the highway. The presence of high species diversity near I-90 serves as an example of the need for crossing structures to allow wildlife to safely cross under or over the interstate.
Since the underpasses have transitioned from a construction to restoration phase, we expect to see wildlife making use of them and adjacent areas even more next season. As construction continues for the overpass, we will continue to pay especially close attention to wildlife activity nearby.
As our 2017 wildlife monitoring season ramps up, we look forward to another great season with all of our volunteers monitoring the wildlife that call the Pacific Northwest home.