This month, an article in Ecosphere provides greater understanding of an issue that land and species managers have been interested in for some time – the relationship between recreation and wolverine’s use of the landscape.
The article entitled Wolverines in winter: indirect habitat loss and functional responses to backcountry recreation finds that “Wolverines avoided areas of both motorized and non-motorized winter recreation with off-road recreation eliciting a stronger response than road-based recreation. Female wolverines exhibited stronger avoidance of off-road motorized recreation and experienced higher indirect habitat loss than male wolverines. Wolverines showed negative functional responses to the level of recreation exposure within the home range, with female wolverines showing the strongest functional response to motorized winter recreation. We suggest indirect habitat loss, particularly to females, could be of concern in areas with higher recreation levels. We speculate that the potential for backcountry winter recreation to affect wolverines may increase under climate change if reduced snow pack concentrates winter recreationists and wolverines in the remaining areas of persistent snow cover.”
Wolverines are a priority issue of the Cascadia Partner Forum, as our transboundary population has seen recovery into Washington’s North Cascades from British Columbia. Therefore, research that can inform how we balance public enjoyment and access to our public lands while providing the necessary habitat for wolverines to thrive is important for land and species managers.