Special Recognition Award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Slogging through 3 feet of fresh powder. Just another day at the office.

This past winter, I was part of Washington's field team for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) wolverine survey. The Western States Wolverine Conservation Project was developed by the WAFWA Wildlife Chiefs' Wolverine Sub-Committee as part of "a statistically defensible multi-state monitoring plan for states where wolverine populations exist (WY, MT, ID, WA)".

At the recent annual meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Assistant Director, Eric Gardner accepted a special recognition award for the Wolverine Project’s Washington Team.

In accepting the award, he stated: "In Washington, we did things a little different than they did in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.  We did not hire crews to conduct the project’s wolverine survey because we are fortunate to have a group of highly skilled and very experienced biologists from a number of different organizations that were already heavily invested in wolverine conservation and surveys, and who were interested in helping on the project’s wolverine survey.  Given the skills, dedication, resourcefulness and incredible toughness of these biologists, working together on the project was clearly the best strategy for success.  Accordingly, this award recognizes their hard work, their boundless interest and energy, and their dedication to wolverine conservation.  They are: Scott Fitkin, Jeff Heinlen, Jeff Lewis, Paul Debruyn, Fenner Yarborough, David Volsen, and Hannah Anderson from WDFW;  John Rohrer, Aja Woodrow, Don Youkey, Matt Marsh, Sonny Paz, Phyllis Reed, and Jesse Plumage from the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests; Robert Long from Woodland Park Zoo; Jocelyn Akins from the Cascade Carnivore Project; Roger Christophersen from North Cascades National Park, and Drew and Cathy Gaylord from Conservation Northwest.  When you run into these folks, don’t hesitate to ask them about the project; because they have some amazing stories to tell."    

It was a total pleasure albeit a grueling winter battle to be apart of this field work. Myself and field partners, Erin Burke, Scott Shively, and Kayla Dreher deployed and ran 5 camera stations at disparate locations in super remote areas of southern Washington's Cascades. The project ran from late November 2016 through April 2017 through huge winter snows and super cold temperatures. Highlights included getting home at 3am on New Years Day, broke-down snowmobiles, wolverines, mountain foxes, and tons of incredible mountain views.

Getting the snowmobiles endlessly stuck.