Why wolverines need research, community science and intact habitat to survive

What’s the animal everyone is talking about? Why, wolverines of course!

You’ve shown that you are enthusiastically curious about this cryptic creature by donating, writing letters, reporting sightings or even learning about human impacts on habitat. You are wild for wolverines.

It doesn’t surprise us that people are fascinated by the species. If wolverines had a dating profile, it might say something along the lines of “mysterious, elusive, tough and fierce”, and don’t forget “enjoys a good beaver carcass every once in a while.” Their scientific name Gulo gulo does mean glutton, after all.

Support from donors like you has enabled wolverine research and spread the word about how people can participate in wolverine protection.

Groundwork for Gulo gulo

Wolverines are tough by nature, but they’re also tough to find and study. That’s why Y2Y is partnered with various researchers at Wolverine Watch on a three-year, multi-faceted study about the species.

One such researcher is PhD candidate Mirjam Barrueto, who studies the effects of human activities and natural processes on wolverine reproduction and connectivity in the Columbia Headwaters and Central Canadian Rockies of B.C. and Alberta.

Maybe you’ve seen her work in the film Chasing a Trace, but if not, you can read about it in Wolverine Watch’s 2019 annual report [PDF], that details year two of the study.

Y2Y also partners with Wolverine Watch researchers Doris Hausleitner and Andrea Kortello as they work to identify den sites in the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges. Through their research and citizen science reporting, they’re learning what’s needed to manage and conserve wolverine habitat in those areas.

Wolverine Watch researcher Doris Hausleitner presents to attendees of a screening of Chasing Trace in B.C. Credit: Nadine Raynolds

Your generous gifts helped fund research in 2019, leading to concrete findings on the threats to wolverine reproduction and movement. But we still need your support to finish the final phase of this three-year study.

Your actions are helping wolverines

In November, Y2Y and Wildsight held 13 events across southeastern B.C., showing the documentary ‘Chasing a Trace’ and giving presentations on the latest wolverine research. We wanted to raise awareness while also giving people the chance to share concerns about wolverine management. The tour reached more than 1,300 people, resulting in more than 900 postcards written to the B.C. government in support of wolverine conservation.

“At each event, we asked people to write down why they care about wolverines and wild places and ask decision-makers to take action on habitat protection,” says Nadine Raynolds, Y2Y’s Columbia Headwaters program manager.

“My favorite part of the evening was when nearly 100 people would take the time to hand-write their postcards. The room would go quiet and there was a great sense of care and community.”

Researchers also count on community scientists to report sightings of wolverines. In 2019, more than 300 people made reports! If you ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or take part in other winter activities — particularly in the Selkirk, Purcell, Monashee, and Cariboo ranges of southeastern B.C. — keep your eyes peeled for signs of wolverines and share what you see.

Your impact

Your actions will continue to make a difference for wolverines. Whether you live near them or not, you can help prevent a species that is already naturally rare from becoming untraceable.

Please speak up about the importance of conserving wolverine habitat.

Header image: Shutterstock