Skip to main content

Expanding Living Northwest carnivore research

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Science and Technology Program has awarded Woodland Park Zoo a generous two-year grant—a portion of which will help fund wolverine monitoring research in the North Cascades—as a part of the expansion of the zoo’s Living Northwest field conservation program.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Living Northwest program uses hidden cameras that are triggered by the presence of animals to monitor wolverine and other carnivore activity in the North Cascades.
Photo: Woodland Park Zoo.

With the $240,000 grant, Woodland Park Zoo will continue to build the Living Northwest conservation program, which leverages zoo-based resources to carry out Pacific Northwest wildlife projects focusing on endangered species recovery, conservation science and community-based education.

“Woodland Park Zoo conducts leading conservation research in our region,” said Susan M. Coliton, Vice President of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “Their work will lead to a better understanding of impacts on carnivore habitat and populations; and, importantly, a sharing of that information with the scientific community and the public.” 

Human, wolf and bear tracks.
Photo: Western Wildlife Outreach, a Woodland Park Zoo Living Northwest project. 

The first priority of the grant is to expand Pacific Northwest carnivore monitoring and research efforts launched this past summer by Dr. Robert Long, the zoo’s Senior Conservation Fellow. Carnivore conservation is a high priority for the zoo, in Washington state and worldwide, with global field projects focused on lions, snow leopards and tigers.

Wolverines are currently proposed to be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act given their reliance on regions with deep snow, like the North Cascades of Washington state, and the threat of climate change. Under the direction of Dr. Long, and in partnership with the United States Forest Service, Woodland Park Zoo will continue developing monitoring protocols for wolverines using noninvasive techniques such as animal-triggered field cameras (commonly referred to as camera traps) and genetic research methods, such as hair sampling. 

Wolverine poster by USFWS, photo by Jason Matthews

The grant also provides the zoo support to help coordinate camera trapping efforts from wildlife research agencies and organizations across the Pacific Northwest. The Allen Family Foundation’s funding will also allow the zoo to assist the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service with the recovery of the fisher—a large member of the weasel family—in the Cascades of Washington state, where the species has been extirpated since the mid-1900s.

“We are extremely grateful that the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has chosen to fund Living Northwest and Dr. Long’s carnivore research,” said Dr. Fred Koontz, Vice President of Field Conservation. “Their generous support will allow Woodland Park Zoo to increase knowledge needed to conserve rare carnivores like the wolverine, and to help protect our local ecosystems that benefit the people and wildlife of Washington state.” 

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s Science and Technology Program advances promising research and technological developments that have the potential to expand knowledge, improve health, and protect the environment. With the rapid pace of innovation in science and technology, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation strives to apply new ideas, discoveries, and information to complex regional and global challenges. 

Follow the progress of this research and more from the Living Northwest program and learn how to get involved.


Sonja said…
This is so exciting--congratulations! I think it's really great that there's a team dedicated to studying, understanding, and conserving these rare and secretive carnivores, especially those in the weasel family that don't have the best public relations. I'm curious about this project and hope to hear more as time goes on. Great job everyone!
Anonymous said…