Adventure science work leads to “critically imperiled” listing for Pacific Marten
A partnership between Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and the Olympic National Forest has led to a “critically imperiled” listing by NatureServe for the coastal Pacific marten on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, building on years of previous research by ONF biologists.
For the past two winters, ASC partnered with US Forest Service biologist Betsy Howell on an intensive survey, recruiting and training 24 hardy outdoor enthusiasts-turned-adventure scientists to search for this elusive member of the weasel family.
Though the region is prime marten habitat, the last confirmed record a dead juvenile in 2008, and there is concern the species has been extirpated from the region.
We first partnered with Howell in 2013, helping her team establish 12 camera trap stations in six drainages. That season’s work yielded thousands of photos of dozens of species – including the fisher, a cousin of the marten recently reintroduced to the area – but no sign of marten.
Howell hasn’t given up on the search.
“If martens still exist in greater numbers on the Olympic Peninsula, then they may be doing so in higher, isolated pockets of habitat,” she said.
“Getting to these areas can be challenging, particularly during the winter months, which are the most ideal for carnivore surveys,” she added. “Having volunteers vetted through ASC who are extremely fit and extremely motivated [adds] to the likelihood of success for such an effort.”
The volunteers came from all walks of life – among them were an arborist, a physician, an engineer, and retirees. They traveled from around the Pacific Northwest, some as far as Portland, Oregon. But they all shared a love of the outdoors and a desire to help protect it.
Every two weeks this past winter, they trekked back to the same spots to check and maintain their cameras, some as far as eight miles in.
This survey could not have been completed without the efforts of ASC and our volunteers. For future projects, support from a 1% For the Planet business member would enable us to set up and maintain wildlife cameras on other much-needed wildlife research projects around the country.
Learn more on our website, and watch a short video about the marten project. Keep up with ASC by subscribing to ASC’s blog, liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter (@AdventurScience), Instagram (@AdventureScience) and Google+.
A big thanks to the National Forest Foundation, Olympic National Forest, Kahtoola, Clif Bar, Osprey Packs and especially our adventure science volunteers for making this project a huge success. We would also like to thank Danny Schmidt of Colorburn Productions for directing and producing the film about the project.