A camera station documents a Pacific marten in the Olympic National Forest

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OLYMPIC NATIONAL FOREST – A rare Pacific marten recorded by a motion-triggered wildlife surveillance camera is the first time the species has been recorded by a camera survey in the Olympic National Forest.

In an ongoing collaboration, Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo partnered with the Olympic National Forest last summer to install six motion-triggered cameras and scent-dispensing stations in the forest in the hope to detect martens, a native carnivore which would be present only very little. sparse numbers.

A month ago, the survey team returned to the station and discovered multiple photos of a single Pacific marten visiting the station area in January, according to a joint press release from forest officials and from the zoo.

Only two dozen marten sightings have been confirmed on the Olympic Peninsula over the past half-century, with half of those attributed to surveys with remote cameras and scent diffusers in recent years and all within Olympic National Park, according to the statement.

“The long-standing collaboration to better understand the distribution and health of the Pacific marten population on the peninsula has seen successes over time, and Olympic National Forest staff are very excited to be a part of this. such a great team,” said Betsy Howell. , wildlife biologist with Olympic National Forest.

“This new record comes as our multi-partner effort begins to comprehensively survey both Olympic National Park and National Marten Forest.”

Pacific martens (Martes caurina) are semi-arboreal, domestic cat-sized members of the mustelid (weasel) family, which also includes wolverines, fishers, otters, and other species.

Historically, their populations in Washington state were found primarily in two disjunct areas, the Cascade Range and the Olympic Peninsula, officials said, adding that marten populations in the Cascades typically inhabit high-altitude forests and appear be relatively stable.

On the Olympic Peninsula, martens once occupied a wide range of elevations, from the coastline to the treeline. However, due to overtrapping and habitat loss in the 1900s, they appear to have disappeared at lower elevations and occur at very low densities at higher elevations.

From 1968 to 2016, only nine reliable records of martens have been recorded on the Olympic Peninsula, despite extensive camera surveys beginning in the 1990s, officials said.

Then, in 2017, the Woodland Park Zoo worked with Olympic National Forest, Olympic National Park, and the US Geological Survey to conduct winter surveys, pairing cameras with scent diffusers programmed to regularly release a small amount of the attractive lure.

Originally developed by the zoo in partnership with Microsoft Research and Idaho Fish and Game, these dispensers greatly increase the period that carnivore survey stations can remain operational in remote locations, up to a year, without that biologists have to come back for rebaiting or maintenance.

Between 2017 and 2019, those surveys detected an additional 13 martens, all in Olympic National Park, more than double the number of reliable records acquired over the past half-century, officials said, adding that two sightings incidental events had been made in 2019 in the Olympic National Park. Forest.

“Martens and other carnivores are important to the community ecology of Northwest ecosystems,” said Robert Long, senior conservation scientist and director of the Living Northwest Program at Woodland Park Zoo.

“The zoo is delighted to be able to bring our innovative survey methods to this collaborative project, and eager to help secure a future for martens on the Olympic Peninsula,” he added.

Since 2008, Olympic National Forest has worked with numerous partners, including Woodland Park Zoo, to survey Pacific martens, officials said.

The effort involved federal and state agencies, nonprofits, volunteer community scientists, hundreds of hours of work, and the collection of thousands of photographs taken remotely.

A Pacific marten was recorded by a motion-triggered wildlife camera, marking the first time the species has been recorded by a camera survey in the Olympic National Forest.



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