It was truly like searching for a needle in a haystack: finding an average-dog-size mammal in a vast expanse of boreal forest larger than the state of California. Yet our seven-year effort at the conservation organization WCS Canada to survey the elusive wolverine in the province of Ontario has provided us with a much clearer picture of how this threatened species is faring in its easternmost North American outpost.
Wolverines, especially males, have home ranges as large as 1,000 square kilometers. To properly understand their status requires searching over a substantial survey area. We realized that for these animals, a capture, tag and release strategy simply was not going to provide the big picture analysis needed to understand their province-wide distribution and would be enormously expensive to undertake. So we took to the sky.
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Photo credits: Banner | William Halliday © WCS Canada