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First wolverine radio-collared in Pacific Northwest

The closest encounter most wildlife biologists have with wolverines in the Pacific Northwest is seeing a set of the animal's tracks in the snow. But wildlife biologist Keith Aubry recently got the call he had eagerly anticipated for several weeks.

A member of his research team called from a site high in the northern Cascade Range of Washington to report that a wolverine had just been captured. Aubry, a carnivore expert and research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in Olympia, Wash., and Jeff Copeland, a wolverine researcher with the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Mont., rushed to the Methow Valley to fit the young female wolverine with a satellite radio collar to initiate the first scientific study of wolverines ever conducted in the Pacific Northwest.

Other members of the interagency team, including wildlife biologists John Rohrer of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and Scott Fitkin of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), traveled by snowmobile to a remote location south of the Pasayten Wilderness in Okanogan County. After immobilizing the wolverine with a sedative, Aubry and his team quickly went to work to evaluate the health of the animal, take measurements and tissue samples for genetic analyses, and install a radio collar to report her movements to Aubry via satellite for the next 18 months. "With this technology, we can now begin to gather reliable information on the movements, home range, and habitat of wolverines in the Pacific Northwest," said Aubry.

The wolverine is a Federal Sensitive Species and a Washington State Candidate Species for protective listing. Since the mid-1990s, biologists have documented the presence of wolverines in north-central Washington via aerial surveys, remote cameras, and winter tracking.

"What we learn about wolverines from this effort will help us determine the species' status and management needs," said R
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Contact: Sherri Richardson Dodge
srichardsondodge@fs.fed.us
503-808-2137
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station
17-Feb-2006


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