Wolverine Tracking project
Community science wildlife surveys in Mt. Hood National Forest
Gulo gulo, Family Mustelidae
Wolverines have been making a slow comeback to the southern reaches of their original range. They can now be found in the Wallowas and, in 2012, were found on Mt Adams for the first time in decades. Given the appropriate conditions, wolverines can travel up to 100 miles per day in search of an alpine home that can support them, and so it seems inevitable that they may once again call our mountain home. However, climate change makes the wolverine's future here uncertain: in addition to needing a large territory and ample food, a wolverine requires deep snowpack for denning.
We are monitoring for wolverines primarily through our winter tracking surveys and camera surveys.
Sierra Nevada Red Fox
Vulpes vulpes necator, Family Canidae
The Sierra Nevada is a rare subspecies of red fox found only in the high mountains of the Oregon Cascades and California Sierra Nevadas. In Oregon, the SN red fox has only been found over 4,000 feet, and very little is known about them. Their presence here was first confirmed in 2012 by a wildlife camera under the Wolverine Tracking Project. This unique fox was denied protection a couple years ago as a threatened or endangered subspecies, in part because of lack of information on their continued uniqueness in the face of potential interbreeding with other fox subspecies. The data from this survey will be used by researchers to determine the native ancestry, population size, distribution, and connectivity of montane red fox populations.
We are monitoring for this species primarily through our Sierra Nevada red fox scat survey, but also collecting data via our camera and winter tracking surveys.
Canis lupus, Family Canidae
Gray wolves, also once native but long extirpated from the Mt Hood area, have re-established themselves on and near Mt Hood National Forest. In 2018, one of our wildlife cameras recorded one of the first documented instances of their return (picture, right). Their presence can cause a cascade of changes throughout an ecosystem, and we are monitoring them as they settle back in this area to determine the areas they are using, their population size, and habitat preferences and to track any changes to the ecosystems they are calling home.
We are monitoring for gray wolves via our winter tracking, camera, and wolf scat surveys.
Martes caurina caurina, Family Mustelidae
Our fourth target species, Pacific marten, is an indicator of healthy old-growth, upper-elevation forests. Previous surveys have consistently documented their presence where there is suitable habitat. We would like to continue to monitor these areas to see if we note any anecdotal changes to their population that would need follow up.
We are monitoring martens via our winter tracking and camera surveys.