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It is vital to connect fragmented wolverine habitats for their conservation

It is vital to connect fragmented wolverine habitats for their conservation

A wolverine with her cub

Wolverines of today Which emerged during the Ice AgeDespite their many adaptations to living in harsh, rugged environments, they are steadily declining worldwide.

These large, land-dwelling wolves were created to climb trees and climb high mountains. Wolverines’ snowshoe-like paws, heavy frost-resistant fur and powerful muscles let them thrive in some of the coldest places on Earth. They can survive in harsh environments thanks to their sharp claws and strong jaws. Enjoy the carcassesAnd Hunt species of all sizesFrom ground squirrels and elk.

While wolverines are not a new phenomenon, Norway, caribou hunting.And Yellowstone, Montana: Black bears fought for foodThey are extremely vulnerable, hard to see, and difficult for researchers to study. Wolverine numbers are decliningGlobally, heavy trapping and predator killing by humans, as well as habitat loss and climate change are all contributing factors. Scientists estimate that there are more than 10,000 wolverines living in CanadaHowever, the population density is not uniform and it is difficult to estimate.

Our 20 years of synthesized research regarding wolverinesThe best ways to preserve remaining wolverine populations include reducing trapping, minimizing predator control pressures, and connecting large blocks of intact habitat.

Not as resilient, as you might think

Wolverines are a solitary and private species. They are slow to reproduce, and they have an average of two kits (or cubs) every two to three years.

A wolverine with her cub
Wolverines are slow to reproduce, giving birth to an average of two to three kits every two to four years.
(Shutterstock)

They are Naturally low in numberTerritories as large as 500-1,000 km2 can be defended. These characteristics make them vulnerable for human impacts all over the world.

Since the Europeans colonized North America fur trapping has been a major part of landscape development and design. The wolverine population has been reduced dramatically. Wolverines can only be found south of the Arctic range in the western boreal forest or mountains. They once lived from coast to coast, and as far south to New Mexico.

Today, the United States only around 300 remain in the lower 48 states — mainly in the snowy strongholdsHigh elevations of the mountain ranges. Wolverines are only found in Eurasia’s northern countries. As predators of reindeer flocks, they were killedIn Fennoscandia.

A map of the wolverine distribution in North America.

Wolverine distribution in North America.
(Environment Canada)

Wolverines can be as tough as they are. Other big predators may eat them. It is risky for scavengers to eat from hungry bears or packs of wolves. Their habitat is being destroyed by resource development, which includes forestry, Oil and GasAnd Roads. Canada still traps wolverines. Too much. They can also be Recreation is important.

All this human activity makes life better for wolverines’ competitors — coyotes. Coyotes can be found in conflict with wolverines when they exploit landscapes. These fights are won by the wolverines who lose..

These problems are compounded by the effects of climate change upon wolverine habitat. The snowy, cold refugesThe Arctic is now thawing and wolverines have fled south. Wolverines require snow to survive. Cache foodTo raise their Protect vulnerable kitsTo keep lowland competitors away. The wolverines are being made worse by climate change and landscape change.

Building blocks for wolverine conservation

Wolverines need large, To survive, connect blocks that are intact habitat. Protecting their habitat fragments is the only way to ensure their survival.

A scenic mountainous green landscape
Prime wolverine habitat close to Revelstoke, B.C. In summer. To survive, wolves need large areas of intact, connected habitat.
(Mirjam Barrueto/WolverineWatch.org), Author provided

It will be easier to create more protected areas and manage human activity within them. Protecting “Climate refugia” — the last bastions of cold wolverine habitat — is an important priority. Landscape planning connect mountain refugesIt is essential to cross busy valley bottoms that are degraded, especially in southern Canada or the United States.

In some areas, work is being done to maintain or improve ecological connectivity. From Yellowstone to YukonAnd Other areas around the globe.

Roads and industrial developments have destroyed large sections of prime habitat. Habitat fragmentation can easily be stopped by making better decisions about road construction, including when to decommission roads that were built for resource extraction. Traffic can be reducedon wolverines, and other wildlife. Habitat protection, connectivity, restoration and rehabilitation are crucial for wolverines.

Transboundary coordination is also important. We need to think across larger landscapes, especially regions that still support wolverines on both sides of a border — like between Canada and the United States or between Norway and Sweden.

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No longer ignorant nor blissful

Globally, governments have not adequately protected wolverines.

Sweden’s The predator stewardship programme is an exceptionBritish Columbia has banned wolverine trapping at small locations.

Large-scale wolverine conservation was put on hold. The U.S. has a Petition to list wolverines on federal Endangered Species Act has been thwarted. Canada lacks a federal management plan and British Columbia’s most recent wolverine plan is from 1989, while Alberta lists the species in the “data deficient” category.

A wolverine in a camera trap surrounded by trees and a snow covered ground.
A wolverine at a British Columbia research station in the southeastern part of British Columbia. We know a lot of information about wolverines. We only need to apply the knowledge and move quickly.
(Mirjam Barrueto/WolverineWatch.org), Author provided

For years it seemed like not much was known about wolverines, and policy-makers have rested on wolverines’ mystery to excuse inaction.

Science has a lot to say about wolverines. The results of research from all over the globe are clear.

Wolverines may not have evolved in the cold, but we must act now. We must. Use the research from the past 20 yearsto make the necessary changes to preserve wolverines.

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