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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fantastic news coming out of Oregon's Central Cascade Range since April of this year with 5 documented accounts of Wolverines in the Wallowa Mountains being confirmed.................Thought to have been extirpated in this part of the world since the 1930's, isolated accounts of Wolverines kept popping up right up through the 1990's..................It now appears a breeding population has the beginning of a toe hold in the state.........................The species became a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act protections in December of last year................Wolverines are a harbinger of climate change due to the fact that they require deep snow that must persist into the Spring months for successful denning and pup weaning to take place


Even mild-mannered scientists get excited. Audrey Magoun, a 35-year veteran of field biological research, made a discovery so unexpected she says, "I have to admit I literally skipped down the mountain trail coming home, saying, 'Yahoo! Yahoo!' all the way down."
Magoun had just confirmed the first wolverine in recorded history in northeastern Oregon. "I was just exhilarated," she says.
She had tricked the wolverine into taking a picture of itself. With the remote trail camera in hand, she headed home to look at the pictures on a large computer screen. There she got an even bigger surprise; the camera had snapped photos of not one but two male wolverines.
Magoun adds, "I was as shocked as anybody."
Later, another camera captured images of a third wolverine.
She'd found three wolverines in her first season of research since moving to Oregon, making discoveries that had eluded the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) for decades.
Magoun knew what she was doing. She has tracked wolverines in Alaska and Canada since 1978. In the early days they lured wolverines into traps, tranquilized them and then fitted them with radio collars to see where they went.
Modern technology has made that intensive, hands-on handling of wildlife virtually unnecessary. "You can find out a lot of things about wolverines just using cameras," says Magoun. "It's not quite as invasive.
She has carried cameras, supplies and roadkill deer in her backpack deep into the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon's Wallowa Mountains to set up 34 camera stations over a two-year span.
She hangs the deer as bait but the free food lured in more than just wolverines. Marten, bear, elk, flying squirrels, bobcat, cougar and a wolf have all come to the bait station and had their pictures taken. Magoun only learns of these sightings after she hikes back to each and every location to retrieve the memory cards.
Her cameras have spied wolverines from about 5,500 feet in elevation up to 7,000 feet. "They probably roam higher, but I can't get up there in the winter because of the avalanche danger," she says.
Magoun's success has inspired other researchers to resume the hunt for wolverines and other carnivores in Oregon's central Cascades range. ODFW teamed with Oregon Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service to place 20 cameras across three wilderness areas, but after a full season of waiting, no wolverines had visited any of the cameras retrieved in the summer of 2013.
Like Magoun's cameras, however, the Cascade cameras saw a host of other wildlife including montane fox, flying squirrel, a bear and a rare high-elevation sighting of a raccoon.
Says Oregon Wildlife's Jamie McFadden-Hiller, "When we're looking for a wolverine it's like looking for a needle in a haystack, but you don't know if that needle exists."
Her team hopes to get funding to continue the Cascades Carnivore Project into a second season.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is due to decide in 2014 whether to add wolverines to the endangered species list.
Magoun extended her cameras for a second winter in the Wallowas. This time only one wolverine returned, who she nicknamed Stormy.
"He didn't show up until January," says Magoun. "So where he was all the time, I don't know."
DNA analysis of a hair sample from Stormy traces his roots to a known population of wolverines in Idaho. They have ranges of hundreds of miles and swim easily. Magoun says wolverines would have no trouble swimming the Snake River to visit Oregon.
She's not sure where the other two wolverines went, but she intends to keep looking.
"For me, wolverines make wilderness -- more than wolves, more than grizzly bears," Magoun says. "To me, if an area doesn't have wolverines, I don't feel like I'm in the northern wilderness. I feel like something's missing."

Wolverines in Oregon? The rumors are true

Oregon Field Guide: Wolverine

In Oregon’s dangerous back-country we search for the rare and elusive wolverine.

It’s an exciting time for Oregon’s wolverine trackers.
After countless unconfirmed reports of wolverine sightings and years of setting up cameras in remote, snow-covered forests, wildlife biologists working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have finally found what they were looking for.
A baited camera offered the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Oregon in 19 years on April 2. The photo was downloaded on Friday. A very happy Earth Day for wolverine researchers!
A baited camera offered the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Oregon in 19 years on April 2. The photo was downloaded on Friday. A very happy Earth Day for wolverine researchers!
Two wolverines were caught on camera this month in Wallowa County. The first discovery came April 17 with a confirmed set of wolverine tracks. Then, just days later, researchers found their camera in Wallowa County had snapped pictures of two wolverines on April 2 and 13.
Wolverine tracks in the snow, April 17. That's a glove on the left for size comparison.
Wolverine tracks in the snow, April 17. That's a glove on the left for size comparison.

I dug up the 2006 Oregon Field Guide episode above to illustrate just how long the search party has been seeking out this elusive species in Oregon.
Wolverines are listed as a state threatened species, and there have been no confirmed sightings anywhere in the state since 1992.
The species became a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act protections in December of last year, and Meg Kenagy of ODFW told me that the species will be a harbinger of climate change because they den in the snow.
Here’s ODFW’s brief history of wolverines in Oregon:

“The wolverine was listed as threatened by the Oregon Game Commission in 1975, grandfathered as a state threatened species (May 1987) and reaffirmed by rule in 1989. It became a federal candidate species on Dec. 14, 2010.

In 1936, the wolverine was thought to have been extirpated from Oregon. In 1965, a male was killed on Three Fingered Jack in Linn County. In 1973, a wolverine was trapped and released on Steens Mountain, Harney County. In 1986, a wolverine was trapped in Wheeler County. In 1990, a dead wolverine was picked up on I-84 in Hood River County. In 1992, a partial skeleton was recovered in Grant County.”

A second wolverine was photographed at a baited camera station on April 13.
A second wolverine was photographed at a baited camera station on April 13.

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