Documenting rare and recovering wildlife
Apprenticeship applications for our winter tracking season are open! Interested? Get started with this form.
Conservation Northwest leads the Community Wildlife Monitoring Program (CWMP), organizing community-scientist volunteers to monitor and document wildlife using remote cameras where state and federal agencies don’t have the resources to go.
Now in its 14th year, our Community Wildlife Monitoring Program is one of the largest community-science wildlife monitoring efforts of its kind in North America, working to extend and enhance the scientific research capacity of our organization and our colleagues.
The program functions as a partnership among our staff, project partners Wilderness Awareness School, and state, federal, tribal and independent biologists to improve knowledge about wildlife presence and distribution that is vital to informing recovery planning and policy. It also helps guide our conservation programs and priorities, and those of state and federal agencies.
We harness the power of more than 100 volunteers each year to maintain dozens of remote camera sites in Washington and southern British Columbia, as well as to conduct winter snow tracking in the Interstate 90 corridor near Snoqualmie Pass to inform wildlife crossing projects.
Disclaimer: All rights to photos acquired through the Community Wildlife Monitoring program are reserved to Conservation Northwest. Photos are available for approved use with credit by request. Please contact: communications (at) conservationnw.org for questions regarding photo usage.
Scroll down to view or download field season reports.
Our latest report is: 2019-2020 winter field season report
Wildlife monitoring news and links
- July 2021: Community Wildlife Monitoring Program 2020-2021 winter field season report
- June 2021: Community Science Projects in Washington, WDFW
- September 2020: Wildlife Safety 101: Tips and best practices for recreating near wildlife
- July 2020: How to set up the perfect remote camera site to document wildlife
- July 2020: Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Program 2019-2020 winter field season report
- December 2019: Our favorite wildlife monitoring photos from 2019
- May 2019: Update on the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project
- March 2019: Season update from the Cascades Wolverine Project
- February 2019: Looking for Patterns
- January 2019: Our favorite wildlife monitoring photos from 2018
- November 2018: Bushwhacking for Conservation, blog from two of our wildlife monitoring volunteers
- September 2018: Citizen scientists contribute to wolverine research in the Cascades
- March 2018: Update on the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project
- January 2018: Winter wildlife tracking season underway
- Visit our Flickr Archives for our favorite remote camera photos
- Donate to support this project and expand our capacity
Powered by volunteers
Tanner Humphries is the Community Wildlife Monitoring Program Senior Coordinator. David Moskowitz, a wildlife biologist, author, and photographer, also helps lead and guide this program under contract with Conservation Northwest and Wilderness Awareness School. A team of Conservation Northwest program staff and state, federal, non-profit and independent scientific advisers also help guide and inform the program.
To become a volunteer, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that because of tremendous interest in this program, new volunteer opportunities are limited at this time.
Already a volunteer, intern, or program adviser? Join our group on Facebook to share photos, trip reports, tips, news, and more!
Anyone can be a Community Wildlife Monitoring Program volunteer.
Community—or citizen—science provides a unique opportunity for the public to work with scientists on research they care about—and anyone can participate. No extensive education, scientific background or conservation expertise is required. All it takes is a desire to contribute to important research.
We recognize that today, the term “citizen” can be used to exclude people. That is not the case for our Community Wildlife Monitoring Program. We want to make clear that anyone, no matter their citizenship status, place of birth, or how they came to live in the Pacific Northwest today, can be a volunteer. If you’re passionate about wildlife conservation and want to make a meaningful impact on the research behind it, we welcome you to join our Community Wildlife Monitoring Program!
Signed waivers are required for all field volunteers. You can speed things up by downloading and signing our waivers from the links below!
How to set up the perfect remote camera site to document wildlife
Video produced in 2020 by Sophie Mazowita, Community Wildlife Monitoring Program Team Lead. Thank you!
Video on the CommunityWildlife Monitoring Progam (2019)
Video produced by students from the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Department of Biology, and College of the Environment, March 2019. THANK YOU!
Media Coverage on our Wildlife Monitoring Program
- Earther: Extreme Athletes Are Braving the Harshest Environments on Earth For Science, November 2017
- The Seattle Times: Oh, what’s that? Winter wildlife tracking stokes imagination, November 2016
- The Spokesman Review: North Cascades wolverines could play role in ESA decision, April 2016
- The Spokesman Review: Wolf documented between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass, May 2015
Our main program objectives are:
- To engage and educate citizens about wildlife species and monitoring in critical habitat areas;
- To record wildlife presence in the I-90 corridor and along the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project in strategic locations and in core habitat through remote camera monitoring and snow tracking;
- To record the presence of rare and sensitive species that regional and national conservation efforts aim to recover including the fisher, gray wolf, grizzly bear, Canada lynx, and wolverine;
- To facilitate the exchange of information about wildlife, including data from monitoring efforts, between public agencies, researchers, conservation organizations, and interested individuals.
Working across the Northwest
Our Community Wildlife Monitoring Program covers several geographic areas, adding to and strengthening the work of agencies, biologists, and other wildlife managers and researchers. We monitor in remote habitats from North Cascades National Park to the Pasayten Wilderness to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
In collaboration with Wilderness Awareness School, in the Central Cascades Program volunteers participate in winter snow tracking along I-90 and year-round remote camera monitoring to evaluate wildlife movement in areas near new wildlife crossings.
In the North Cascades, our volunteers monitor remote cameras looking for grizzly bears and wolverines. In Washington’s South Cascades, our efforts search for wolves, fishers, and wolverines.
In northeast Washington and southern British Columbia, we work to record the presence of Canada lynx, wolves, and grizzly bears in the Kettle River Range, Selkirk Mountains, Rossland Range, and other areas of the Columbia Highlands.
In British Columbia, we also collaborate with B.C. Parks and the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission on the Community Science Wildlife Monitoring Program. Lead by B.C. Parks and modeled in part after our Community Wildlife Monitoring Program, this program assists both local and international biologists and conservationists to better understand the current populations of target species through the monitoring of cameras in the remote wilderness of southern British Columbia and northern Washington state.
The annual cycle of monitoring is divided into two project sections: our annual remote camera field season and our Winter snow tracking season. We report on results at the end of each season. Albums of images from each monitoring season are also available on our Flickr page.
- 2020-2021 Winter Field Season Community Wildlife Monitoring Project Report (snowtracking, PDF)
- 2019-2020 Winter Field Season Community Wildlife Monitoring Project Report (snowtracking, PDF)
- 2018 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report without appendices (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2018 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report with appendices (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2017-18 Winter Field Season Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report (snowtracking, PDF, PDF with Protocol)
- 2017 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report without appendices (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2017 Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report with appendices (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2016-17 Winter Field Season Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project Report (snowtracking, PDF)
- 2016 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2015-2016 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking, PDF)
- 2015 wildlife monitoring field season report (remote cameras, PDF)
- 2014-2015 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking, PDF)
- 2014 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report without appendices (remote cameras)
- 2014 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report with appendices (remote cameras)
- 2013-2014 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras and snowtracking)
- 2013 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras). See a video highlighting season results.
- 2012-2013 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking and remote cameras)
- 2012 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras). See a video highlighting season results.
- 2011-2012 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking and remote cameras)
- 2011 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras). See a video highlighting season results.
- 2010-2011 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking and wolverine cameras)
- 2010 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras). See a video highlighting season results.
- 2009-2010 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking)
- 2009 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras)
- 2008-2009 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking)
- 2008 spring-fall field season wildlife monitoring report (remote cameras)
- 2007-2008 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking and I-90 remote cameras)
- 2006-2007 winter field season wildlife monitoring report (snowtracking)
Remote camera site protocols
- Remote Camera Trap Installation and Servicing Protocol
- Grizzly Bear
- Gray Wolf
- Canada Lynx (national protocol)
- Canada Lynx (Washington state)
We also administer I-90 Wildlife Watch, a project that asks motorists to report the wildlife they see from their car as they drive over Snoqualmie Pass from North Bend to Easton. Annual reports from this project are available at www.i90wildlifewatch.org
Community Wildlife Monitoring Project background
Since 2001, Conservation Northwest has conducted remote camera monitoring for rare and recovering wildlife. Working in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the project began as the Rare Carnivore Remote Camera Project. In 2006, we organized our efforts into the Community Wildlife Monitoring Project and later added winter snowtracking surveys around Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass, at the time dubbed the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, but later included under the umbrella of the larger project. In 2020, we changed the name to the Community Wildlife Monitoring Project.
Today, our Community Wildlife Monitoring Project works in coordination with various state, federal, and tribal wildlife agencies, including WDFW, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as independent researchers and biologists from other non-profits. The project is now guided in part through an Advisory Council made up of partners, government agency biologists, and professional researchers, allowing us to better coordinate with and add value to ongoing wildlife research and recovery efforts. Our Advisory Council provides valuable input on our program; it also helps steer our yearly monitoring objectives and site locations.
This entire project wouldn’t be possible without our citizen-scientist volunteers. Throughout the season, volunteer field knowledge and experience help CWMP staff and the Advisory Council reassess each site based on data gathered during the season. Thanks to their presence on the ground in the core habitat, our volunteers provide invaluable feedback on-site locations as well as actual field conditions and habitat.
Wildlife monitoring highlights
In 2008, our volunteer-operated cameras documented the first wild wolf pups born in Washington in nearly 80 years in the Methow Valley, now called the Lookout Pack. In 2011, our teams documented a new wolf pack in the Teanaway, just 90 miles east of Seattle.
In 2012, we helped document the recovery of wolverines north and east of Stevens Pass near Leavenworth. Our cameras continue to be an important part of inter-agency and inter-organizational efforts to monitor the return of wolverines to the Cascade Mountains.
In 2015 we captured the first images of a wolf documented between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. Later in 2015, our cameras photographed a second wolf, a collared member of the Teanaway Pack, in the same area.
In 2016, our program followed up on a report from a hiker and captured remote camera photos of a wolverine in a new area of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest north of Lake Wenatchee. The area had previously been a gap in the confirmed wolverine-occupied territory between known wolverine ranges near Leavenworth and above Lake Chelan. We also documented new wolverines just east of Stevens Pass, and another wolf near Leavenworth.
In 2016, shortly after fishers were reintroduced to the Cascade Mountains by Conservation Northwest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Park Service, our remote cameras documented fishers east of Mount Rainier. This and other fisher documentation show these native animals are surviving and expanding their range!
In 2018, we documented wolverines in the North Cascades, and one citizen science team was lucky enough to visually observe two wolverines near a monitoring installation! We also documented fishers at two survey areas in the South Cascades, both close to the fisher release sites in and around Mount Rainier.