By REBECCA MARSTON/ Montana State News

Wildlife biologists plan to once again collaborate with the public this winter to track rare carnivores in the Gallatin Range.

Wild Things Unlimited, a nonprofit organization started by biologists Steve Gehman and Betsy Robinson, has been raising public awareness for almost 16 years about the movement of rare mammals – such as wolverines, fishers and lynx – throughout the Rocky Mountains.

This is the second year that the public has been recruited to help professionals track these animals through the Citizen Science program. More eyes on the ground lead to more accurate and complete data for the organization, according to program organizers.

Once abundant in the Rocky Mountains, populations of wolverines, fishers and lynx have been on the decline due to loss of habitat from with the timber industry and human expansion. However, several populations of these animals have been rediscovered and monitored.

Sam Arnold, member of Montana State University’s Wilderness Association and a wildlife tracking volunteer, believes that surveying the movements of these rare animals is vital to their conservation.

“Government agencies aren’t funding this research, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it ourselves. It’s up to the rest of us concerned citizens to step up and help protect the biodiversity of our environment,” Arnold said.

Gallatin Valley residents interested in participating in wildlife tracking may to adopt a local creek drainage and visit it several times to record visible animal tracks. Wildlife observations can be sent to Wild Things Unlimited or submitted online at wildthingsultd.org.

Wild Things Unlimited will hold its first wildlife tracking training session next Monday at 5 p.m. in the Strand Union Building at MSU. It is free and open to the public. A Citizen Science tracking outing will take place the following Saturday after the training session.

Edited by Kaylee Walden

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