Northwest Connections uses the snow tracking conditions of winter to gather information about rare carnivores such as lynx, fisher, marten and wolverine.  We have been doing this work consistently since the late 1990’s.  

Winter of 2014 marked our 3rd field season on the Southwestern Crown Carnivore Project, an effort to inform forest management and restoration across the Seeley-Swan-Blackfoot region of Montana.

In 2014 we deployed 107 bait stations throughout the Southwest Crown region.  A total of 615 genetics samples from bait stations were collected. Track surveys were conducted in 62 grid cells with a total of 1,240 miles surveyed.


Track observations 2014:

Target species track observations 2012-2014:

Look for the results of our genetic analysis to be posted here soon.

The objectives of this project on forest carnivores are to:

  • Monitor the landscape changes to carnivore populations during implementation of the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and beyond;
  • Develop a better understanding of the distribution and relative abundance of rare carnivores across the project area;
  • Collect empirical information upon which to base management decisions and inform conservation strategies;
  • Collect genetic material from the three focal species which will establish important baseline information (individual ID & sex, sub-population genetics) and add to the existing body of knowledge of these species in the Northern Rockies;
  • Better understand travel routes and coarse habitat selection for these species;
  • Complement ongoing research and monitoring efforts in the region;
  • Identify “hot spots” where more intensive research could be conducted (e.g. GPS collar deployment to study specific habitat use);
  • Make a concerted effort to survey roadless and wilderness efforts that have received very little survey effort to date; and
  • Raise community awareness/increase support among partners and the general public for forest carnivore conservation.

If you are interested in learning more about forest carnivores or gaining tracking skills, register for our Animal Tracks & Sign courses.


IMAGE CREDITS: Top, wolverine - AYImages; Canada lynx - Chris Lorenz