Only a month after HCPC staff and our volunteer "wildlife watchers" placed remote-sensor cameras around the Anthony Lakes ski area in the Blue Mountains, was our target species--the American Marten--captured on film.
While confirming the presence of this rather elusive critter only took a month, kick-starting our volunteer-driven wildlife monitoring campaign was not without some trial and error. A couple weeks after the initial camera placement in late February, we returned to the monitoring sites only to find that we had over 2,000 pictures of falling snow and burned-up batteries because the camera setting was too sensitive for those high mountain low temperatures. So we fixed the settings, hoisted up some fresh bait (raw chicken and some old steelhead, yumm) and lathered on more marten lure (a potent bottle of various animal musks) and gave it another go. And voila, two weeks later we have one of the most adorable forest animals on film.
By confirming the presence of rare or rarely seen regional focal species like marten we can inform land management decisions that affect our public lands and threaten to disrupt wildlife habitat connectivity.
This is a collaborative endeavor--not only are we out to mobilize volunteers, but we've partnered with wildlife experts from the U.S. Forest Service and ODFW to follow the agency's monitoring protocols and select monitoring locations. All monitoring locations are established in areas identified through recent, cutting-edge habitat mapping and modeling as core habitat and key connectivity corridors (travel pathways) for regional focal species like marten.
Check out these great maps produced by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group (WWHCWG) identifying regional marten core habitat and connectivity corridors (pages 118-123) on-line here.
Now that we know marten do indeed occupy this section of the Blue Mountains identified as their core habitat, we can move on to other parts of the forest. This is an on-going project, so if you're a student looking for field experience, or just a wildlife lover that wants another reason to get out in the forest and learn more about our native species while contributing to an important project, please contact HCPC's Volunteer Coordinator, Brian Kelly, 541-963-3950x24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to the Burning and Charlotte Martin Foundations, Patagonia and the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative for the funding to launch this program, our agency partners in the Forest Service, ODFW, and the WWHCWG, and of course our stellar volunteers!
Jennifer Schwartz, HCPC Staff Attorney & Connectivity Campaign Coordinator