By Katie Smith ADVENTURERS AND SCIENTISTS FOR CONSERVATION
BOZEMAN – A new partnership between the nonprofit Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and the Hebgen Lake Ranger District will orchestrate a study this summer searching for rare carnivores like Canada lynx and wolverines in the area surrounding Hebgen Lake.
The ranger district recently conducted a landscape assessment of the watersheds north and east of Hebgen Lake, all part of the Gallatin National Forest, and found the need for habitat improvement projects in the area. However, very little is known about the populations of large carnivores surrounding the lake, according to Forest Service Wildlife Biologist Courtney Frost.
The Hebgen Lake Wildlife Survey will provide the ranger district with evidence of the presence or absence of large carnivore species throughout the watershed.
Working together, Frost and ASC plan to install 12 backcountry camera stations in six drainages in hopes of capturing photographic evidence of these animals. Photographic evidence of wildlife would provide Frost and other researchers with a more complete picture of wildlife behavior throughout the Hebgen Lake area.
“By gaining a better understanding about what species are using these watersheds and where they occur, we will be better able to identify specific projects that may benefit resident wildlife species,” Frost said.
ASC, which is based in Bozeman, recruited volunteer citizen scientists from across the region to help set up and maintain the camera stations.
“This is an opportunity to engage a group of local people in an interesting wildlife conservation project, and to build a community of people who are trained and are capable of continuing these opportunities or working on new projects,” said ASC Program Director Brendan Weiner.
ASC found this to be true in a pine marten camera trapping study in the Olympic National Forest, Washington, this past winter; moreover, Frost agreed.
“Camera trapping is especially good at creating an avenue for forest managers to interact with the public and develop strong working relationships that will improve forest management and community understanding of wildlife issues,” she said.
Find more information at adventureandscience.org.