CAUGHT IN THE WILD: Citizen Scientists Film A Wolverine!

Folks may recall the exciting news I reported last month when one of our intrepid “citizen scientist” volunteers Kalon Baughan managed to photograph a wild lynx while surveying a transect not far from his house near Lincoln, Montana.  Well, during the weeks that followed (we enjoyed an unusually long winter out here, even by Montana standards), Kalon and his partner Dan Kreutz upped the ante yet again by first photographing wild wolverines and then capturing one on video!

As I mentioned in my previous post, our non-profit wildlife research partners at Wild Things Unlimited trained Kalon and Dan and dozens of other citizen scientist volunteers to identify and record tracks in the snow and other wildlife observations in this area.  Other groups collaborating with us in this citizen scientist project are Montana Wilderness Association (see their slide show of one of our training sessions here) and Winter Wildlands Alliance.  Patagonia Corporation generously funded this project through its environmental grants program (we can’t link to a for-profit corporation, but you know how to find them).

“Hopefully, citizen scientist volunteers can help make a positive difference for sustainability of our perishable and precious natural world,” said Kalon. “This is very empowering for an avid nature enthusiast, such as myself.  Average people can make a difference.”

Most of us are superbly lucky if we ever cross the tracks of one of these elusive carnivores, but by taking advantage of an elk carcass and then a nearby boulder field strewn with wolverine tracks, our volunteers captured the remarkable images shown here.

Snow cave
Snow cave, © Kalon Baughan
Snow cave, © Kalon Baughan
Snow cave, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine track, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine tracks, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine trail, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine, © Kalon Baughan
Wolverine, © Kalon Baughan
Unidentifiable carnivore tracks
Lynx trail, © Kalon Baughan
Lynx tracks, © Kalon Baughan

A lynx investigates an uprooted tree cavity

Lynx, © Kalon Baughan
Lynx, © Kalon Baughan
Bear claw marks on an Aspen tree
Snow piles up at Upper Moose Creek
The infamous and ever-elusive Hydromantia plastisol--the free-roaming water bottle.

Check out Kalon’s notes (primary report and addendum) and see not just more of his lynx photos but also three wolverine photos and a wolverine video taken with the use of his remote camera.  The beauty of this methodology is that it is “non-invasive,” meaning no animals were harmed or significantly influenced by the observers.

“Hopefully, citizen scientist volunteers can help make a positive difference for sustainability of our perishable and precious natural world,” said Kalon. “This is very empowering for an avid nature enthusiast, such as myself.  Average people can make a difference.”

Congratulations and thank you to Kalon, Dan, and our research partners at Wild Things Unlimited for their extraordinary efforts and perseverance necessary to collect this exciting new information, which we will use in our work to help ensure the long-term survival of these magnificent animals in this wild and remote area of Montana.

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