Winter Tracks Programs

 

Welcome to our Winter Tracks Page!

mbi class 6

 

 

This 2014-2015 season, FSPW is conducting a “Winter Tracks Field Trip” youth-orientated outdoor field program in and around the Scotchman Peaks Roadless Area.  Aimed at kids grades 7-12, participants will gain hands-on, outdoor experience as they are given the tools to fine tune their senses in a wilderness environment, fostering discoveries of the world around them from their first-hand observations.

Beginning in a classroom setting, local Naturalist Brian Baxter presents a thorough account of wildlife tracking and elksign interpretation.  Powerpoints and handouts will be included in this intensive study session about decoding wildlife activity in the outdoors.  Next, donning our winter coats and snowshoes (youth and adult sizes available for loan from FSPW!), we will head out to the forest to practice this knowledge in a wilderness environment.  Experienced outdoor guides will assist participants in interpreting the signs they see around them as they hone their observational skills during this outdoor educational experience.  These hikes will also highlight wildlife camera deployment, retrieval, and analysis to capture some images of the wildlife students will be learning to track.

trackThis series of events includes field trips structured for families as well as professional educators of public/private classes.  Sessions will take place in classrooms and community centers for the indoor component of the event, and the outdoor portion of this program will be conducted in convenient locations on our public lands.

These educational presentations are free for interested participants.  No previous winter hiking or tracking skills needed!  Professional educators are encouraged to contact us to set up dates that work with their class schedules.  Two general public events have been scheduled for December 13th and February 28th.  To sign up, please visit our Events page.

Join us as we make discoveries about the wilderness this winter!  Contact kristen@scotchmanpeaks.org to sign up!

WinterHikers972
(In) winter and fall… you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.

-Andrew Wyeth

_____________________________________________________________________________

Historical Winter Stewardship with FSPW:

From 2010-2014, Friends of Scotchman Peaks volunteers participated in a region-wide presence-and-abundance winter carnivore study in cooperation with state wildlife resource management under ID Fish and Game.  Below you can enjoy our historical data and project details.  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in these studies.

 

FSPW helped Idaho Department of Fish and Game look for this critter over the winter thanks to a grant from Zoo Boise Conservation Fund

FSPW helped Idaho Department of Fish and Game look for this critter and its mustelid cousins for four seasons

All things Wolverine:  The history of our Wolverine Project

In recent years, The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness  put a strong emphasis on stewardship projects in the proposed wilderness, such as maintaining sustainable trail systems, educational materials to reduced human-wildlife conflicts and habitat restoration efforts such as planting trees. We were also excited to extend our stewardship and volunteer involvement to the Multispecies Baseline Initiative, which included a rare forest carnivore study, which FSPW volunteers took part in for four winters.

A Brief History

Beginning in 2010, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and  partner agencies conducted extensive regional biodiversity monitoring surveys as part of the Multispecies Baseline Initiative. This initiative provided biologists with baseline population data for the management of many different species in the Idaho Panhandle and surrounding area. Rare forest carnivores, such as wolverine, fisher, marten and lynx, were an important part of this initiative, as their elusive natures leaves much unknown about their presence in the region.

One of the "captured" fishers from the 2011-12 effort

One of the “captured” fishers from the 2011-12 effort

To study these elusive creatures, wildlife cameras stations were deployed to strategic locations throughout the wilderness of the Idaho Panhandle and western Montana by IDFG biologists, FSPW volunteers and other organizations, including Idaho Conservation League and Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education. These camera stations provided a simple, effective, and non-invasive way to gather population data on multiple species at the same time. Throughout all four seasons, these cameras  documented fisher, marten, ermine, lynx, wolverine, and many other creatures. In documenting the occurrence of these animals over a broad geographic area, the rare forest carnivore study provided  baseline population data necessary for informed and effective agency decisions on proper land use and management in the region.

In the winter of 2009-2010 IDFG focused their rare forest carnivore study on the Selkirk Mountains, documenting the presence of wolverine, fisher and marten.

This group snowshoed into the East Fork of Blue Creek in the Scotchman Peaks to set up a wolverine bait station

This group snowshoed into the East Fork of Blue Creek in the Scotchman Peaks to set up a wolverine bait station

In the winter of 2010-2011, IDFG choose to shift their main focus on the West Cabinet / Scotchman Peaks area while maintaining some high value study locations in the Selkirks. This required additional hours of manpower, so IDFG invited FSPW volunteers to assist in setting up and monitoring approximately 5 study locations. Wolverines were photographed for the second year in a row in the Selkirks and tracks were found in the West Cabinets. A photograph of a Lynx in the Purcells was exciting and 18 unique Fishers were found in the West Cabinet Mountains!

In the winter of 2011-2012, IDFG wanted to expand our partnership to cover both the Selkirks and the West Cabinets in the same season. With guidance from IDFG, and support from community partners including ICL, FSPW applied for (and was awarded) a $27,000 grant from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund. Funding from this grant allowed FSPW to purchase cameras and other gear and hire a part time project coordinator.

In the winter of 2012-2013, the Zoo Boise grant was not forthcoming, but we were committed to continuing this important research, and our community and volunteers helped make it happen by donating  money and time.  With all the support that was given, we were able to set up 17 monitoring stations.

Some of our duties as citizen scientists were not as pleasant as others.

Kelsie Brasseur ran the wolverine project during the 2011-12 season. She demonstrates here that some of our duties as citizen scientists were not as pleasant as others.

In the 2013-14 season, we faced the same funding hurdles, but still maintained a field presence. Although FSPW serviced just eight stations,  these eight were some of the most challenging that volunteers set up for the entire four years, as most of the “low hanging fruit” had already been sampled in previous years. In fact, the last data was not retrieved until well into spring because of very dangerous avalanche conditions and the inaccessibility of the last few stations.

Overall, the study was a great success, engaging scores of volunteers and garnering thousands upon thousands of photographs and other evidence of the mustelid presence in Northern Idaho and Western Montana. A big thanks is due to all of our volunteers, as well as to the three young women who ran the larger programs, Kelsie Brasseur (2011-12); Lauren Mitchell (2012-13); and Kristen Nowicki (2013-14). Kristen is also our current Project Coordinator.

A good introduction to our project would be to view this short (2 minute) video clip which can be found on our You Tube Channel. It’s an exciting series of photos from several early reporting stations showing some of the critters that come to visit:

Click HERE to view the video

 

A Bit About Wolverines

Of all Idaho’s native wildlife, the wolverine and its cousins in the mustelid family are among the most elusive, secretive and shy. The wolverine itself is the size of a small dog and related to weasels, polecats, ferrets, minks, fishers, otters, badgers, skunks and martens. These far-ranging scavengers are commonly associated with rugged, snowy terrain of the Selkirks and Cabinet Mountains. From Idaho to the Arctic Circle, wolverines thrive in places few other species can even survive.

Click on the link below to go to a very interesting webpage for Wolverine tracks and more go to Wild Things Unlimited at:

Tracking hints for wolverines (and more)

 

 

The first foray of the 2011-12 season
Meet Kelsey Brasseur, the Wolverine Project Coordinator
Zoo Boise funds the study
Final report: 2010-11 Winter Studies
Report from the field — February 2011
Tracking hints for wolverines (and mor