Volunteer photographs another wolf near Stevens Pass

Volunteer photographs another wolf near Stevens Pass

Conservation Northwest / Dec 22, 2015 / Wildlife Monitoring, Wolves

All photo rights reserved to Conservation Northwest and the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. Contact communications (at) conservationnw.org to request permission to use.

By Alaina Kowitz, Communications and Outreach Associate

The end of the year brings with it the joy of reviewing photos from our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project!

This citizen-science effort captures wildlife photos from remote camera sites around the region, confirming the presence of rare carnivores and other animals and informing land management decisions upon which our wildlife depend.

We’re always excited to see which animals cross paths with the cameras. And while we often catch black bears, bobcats, deer and coyotes, sometimes we get extra lucky and glimpse something a little rarer.

In this year’s batch of photos, a collared wolf made a starring appearance at a camera site in the Chiwaukum Mountains between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth! These latest photos were taken in late November 2015, but we also photographed a different wolf in this area back in February of this year.

Based on data from the GPS tracking collar, officials with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed that this latest wolf is a female member of the Teanaway Pack, whose main territory is northeast of Cle Elum, south of the Stuart Mountain Range and west of Highway 97. WDFW collar data shows that this wolf has since returned to that pack’s home range after venturing north through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness on a ‘walkabout’.

There are currently no confirmed wolf packs in the large stretch of wild and rugged land between the Stuart Mountains, the northern boundary of the home range of the Teanaway Pack, and Lake Chelan, the southwest boundary of the Lookout Pack’s home range on the western side of the Methow Valley. The Chiwaukum Mountains are at the heart of this area, south and west of Highway 2 between Stevens Pass and Leavenworth, and north of Icicle Ridge.

Capturing photos of another wolf in this area was an exciting discovery for our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. However we don’t believe a new pack is establishing territory in the Chiwaukum Mountains or Stevens Pass area at this time. Still, it’s only a matter of time before wolves travel through this area, hopefully establishing a pack in Western Washington.

Aleah Jaeger, Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project coordinator, was thrilled with the Project’s find. 

“These photos are a great example of how exciting citizen science is. And how important our Wildlife Monitoring Project can be,” she said. “This particular wolf has a GPS collar operated by WDFW, and we’re told that the collar happened to malfunction for a couple weeks. During that time, she visited one of our camera sites and we were fortunate enough to capture these beautiful photos.”

Through the Monitoring Project, Jaeger organizes citizen science volunteers to monitor and document wildlife using remote cameras in areas around our region where state and federal agencies don’t have the resources to go.

The Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project (CWMP) is one of our most popular programs for volunteers to get involved in, and we are extremely grateful for the time and work that they give to monitor our cameras and contribute to Conservation Northwest’s work in such a valuable way.

“We might have never known that the wolf wandered this far from her pack’s home range had it not been for these cameras installed by Jim Clark, one of our long-term volunteers,” Jaeger said.

Clark’s camera also caught new photos of a rare wolverine, which was the species that the camera site was originally set up to monitor.

We want to extend a huge thank you to our volunteers for all the great work that they do and for making the CWMP a huge success. It’s thanks to them that we have these wildlife photos that enhance our work and assist in monitoring, managing and conserving rare species in our region!

To find out more about our citizen science work, visit our webpage. For more CWMP photo highlights from this year, check out our Instagram feed at @conservationnw