04 January 2012 Remembering Dave Posted by: John Motsinger | 8 comments One of the last emails Dave ever sent landed in my inbox on Friday afternoon. While most of us at Defenders had already headed home for the long holiday weekend, Dave was still thinking up new and better ways to protect the critters he cared so much about. He had compiled a list of conservation successes for 2011 for his beloved “meso-carnivores”—wolverines, lynx, fishers—and mentioned wanting to do a similar recap for each quarter of 2012. That’s just the kind of guy he was. For two decades, Dave was deeply dedicated to protecting the wild animals and wild places that make the Northern Rockies so special. Whether he was tromping through the backcountry with “citizen scientists” in search of wolverine tracks, or defending critical lynx habitat from oil and gas drilling, he was always focused on a mission much larger than himself. And he did it with a warm smile, infectious laughter and an uplifting spirit that made us all want to cheer for the underdogs he was working hard to save. Here’s a look at just some of the great work that Dave was involved with over the past year: Forest Carnivore Year-end Report 2011 By David Gaillard, Defenders of Wildlife, Bozeman, Montana America’s large carnivores the wolf and grizzly bear continued to grab the lion’s share of the headlines (so to speak), but 2011 was an important year for smaller carnivores that must overcome the same magnitude of challenges or greater across our northern forests with just a fraction of the attention and resources. Here is a look at some highlights this past year for the forest carnivores—lynx, wolverines and fishers—in the contiguous United States. Wolverines in 2011 This rare and mysterious carnivore continues to gain public awareness and excitement, thanks to major advances by researchers, award-winning documentaries, and increasing attention by land and wildlife management agencies… Wolverines documented in Oregon for the first time in decades Wolverines go to the front of the queue for Endangered Species Act protections New publication details decline, fragmentation of wolverine habitat due to climate change Colorado under consideration for a wolverine reintroduction Two new publications document status of the Greater Yellowstone wolverine population: Wolverine Conservation in Yellowstone National Park by Kerry Murphy and others published by the National Park Service; and Spatial Ecology of Wolverines at the Southern Periphery of Their Distribution by Robert Inman and others, published by the Journal of Wildlife Management Wolverine documentary film nominated for Emmy Award Lynx in 2011 Last year was another sleeper for lynx in the lower 48, which is ironic given they have now been listed as a Threatened species under the ESA for more than a decade, and critical habitat has been designated across 40,000 square miles in the northeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest regions. These few news items pertain to the implementation of lynx protections on the ground… Oil and gas projects on the Bridger-Teton National Forest south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming delayed for further analysis, in part due to the potential harm incurred by lynx: Oil and Gas Leasing Decision — 44,720 Acres in the Wyoming Range — Supplemental Analysis (EIS) Plains Exploration’s Eagle Prospect and Noble Basin Oil and Gas Master Development Plan (EIS) Montana completes a Habitat Conservation Plan focused on lynx, grizzly bears and three rare species of trout that will guide the management of its forested state trust lands across 500,000 acres of western Montana for the next 50 years. The State of Maine and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are developing regulations to reduce the risks to lynx from traps set for other species. Fishers in 2011 Fishers lag even farther behind lynx and wolverines in terms of public awareness and conservation actions, despite the fact that they are probably the rarest forest carnivore in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, and perhaps even more imperiled across their West Coast range in California, Oregon and Washington. Yet even fishers got some important attention in 2011… The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completes its 12-month status review and finds ESA protections are not warranted for fishers in the U.S. northern Rocky Mountains. Two important products are published from the West Coast Fisher Conservation Assessment and Strategy: a region-wide conservation assessment and a synopsis of “key findings” from fisher research across western North America. Fisher reintroduction into Olympic National Park in Washington continues… Monitoring Forest Carnivores in 2011 “Citizen science” is an emerging buzzword for all of the forest carnivores now that advances in wildlife genetics make it possible to gather important information from noninvasive sampling of hairs and scats. Methods include snowtracking, hair-snare stations and remote cameras, much of which can be conducted by amateur wildlife enthusiasts with some basic scientific training and outdoor skills. Here are some links showing interesting results in 2011: Friends of Scotchman Peaks (Northwestern Montana and the Idaho Panhandle) Defenders of Wildlife and Wild Things Unlimited (Continental Divide west of Helena, Montana) Defenders of Wildlife (Wyoming Range south of Jackson Hole, Wyoming) New wolverine range maps created by Defenders of Wildlife using data from wolverine studies across the western U.S. We here at Defenders will miss Dave very much, but we take some solace knowing that he died doing what he loved to do most: savoring the rugged wilderness under a beautiful Montana sky with his beloved wife. Dave, your life was an inspiration for us all. Rest in peace, dear friend. Readers: If you have any thoughts or memories to share, please feel free to add a comment below. You can also make a donation in Dave’s honor by visiting www.defenders.org/dgmemorial. John Motsinger, Communications Associate John Motsinger is a Communications Associate at Defenders of Wildlife. He handles press coverage for critters in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains as well as Defenders' national work on the Endangered Species Act.