Wolverines and Deer-mice and Bears, Oh My!

January 16, 2018 Posted by: Tania Lewis (National Park Service) and Mira Sytsma (University of Washington)
Last summer biologists installed forty remote cameras at 10 sites around Glacier Bay to test responses of wildlife to shoreline tourism and landscape change. (See the previous blog post on this research here.) The motion sensor cameras took 3 photos every time they were triggered, and half of the cameras were set up to also take one time-lapse photo every 15 minutes. The cameras took 319,923 photos from May 25 - September 5, 2017, including 62,498 photos of humans, 4,970 photos of moose, 2,045 photos of brown bears, 1,552 photos of black bears, 187 photos of wolves, and a small number of photos of a wolverine, river otters, coyotes, marmots, pine martens, bald eagles and several other bird species. Presence and absence of people and animal species were recorded for every photo and will be used to create an occupancy modeling framework that will allow us to better understand how wildlife distribution and activity levels are affected by human use.
shaggy brown bearPhoto of a brown bear captured with a remote motion sensor camera in Tarr Inlet, Glacier Bay.

In addition to remote camera installation, small mammals were trapped at 5 of the 10 study sites (Bartlett Cove, Reid West, Lamplugh, South Sandy Cove and Hunter Cove). One hundred live-traps were placed in two different habitats at each site for two days and nights. Small mammals were captured in 142 instances, the overwhelming majority of these mammals were shrews (species identification pending) with a small number of red-backed and tundra voles. At one site only (Hunter Cove), Keen’s mice, (Northwestern Deermouse) were also captured in 13 traps.

Rare photo of a wolf captured with a remote motion sensor camera in Hunter Cove, Glacier Bay.

In 2018, the remote cameras will be installed again to continue monitoring wildlife responses to human use of the shoreline areas of the park. Small mammals will be trapped at the remaining 5 study sites (Lester Island, Reid East, Adams Inlet, Upper Tarr Inlet and Beartrack Cove) and bird point counts will be conducted at each of the study sites. Small mammal trapping and bird surveys will be used to augment the camera data and compare species distribution of mammals and birds in recently deglaciated areas vs. older habitats as well as the east arm vs. the west arm of Glacier Bay. Glacier Bay National Park was created to foster the scientific study of ecological succession after glaciers retreat, and this study will add to the scientific knowledge on how animals recolonize landscapes, in addition to helping understand how wildlife may be affected by humans.

biologist weights a small mammal
Biological Technician Kiana Young weighs a shrew live-trapped in Bartlett Cove, Glacier Bay.

wolverine runs by a motion sensor camera
A rare photo of a wolverine running by a motion sensor camera in Tarr Inlet, Glacier Bay. 

Last updated: January 19, 2018

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