Elusive Pine Marten Seeking Volunteers for Outdoor Adventures
Put your winter adventures to work for pine martens this winter. The Olympic Forest Service and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a non-profit organization that partners hikers with scientific projects, are looking for volunteer hikers to help monitor pine martens in Olympic National Forest this winter.
The Olympic Forest Service and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a non-profit organization that partners hikers with scientific projects, have just a few more spots for volunteers to help monitor the Coastal Olympic Pine Marten in Olympic National Forest this winter.
Martens are small carnivores who have historically been found throughout the mountains of Pacific coastal states. Though they are related to otters, mink, and skunks, the elusive martens are most at home in trees. Martens maintain their dark coats year-round, so winter is the best time to try and spot them. (See last year's volunteers and some footage of martens in action below.)
Very few martens have been spotted in Olympic National Forest in recent years, and forest service biologists will use data collected by volunteers to better understand marten activity in the forest and to develop management policy for these "critically imperiled" animals.
Remote camera stations (and you) help monitor martens
Scientists will be setting up 20 remote wildlife cameras in high elevation drainages of Olympic National Forest to monitor marten activity. ASC and the Forest Service need volunteer help checking and maintaining the camera stations.
“If martens still exist in greater numbers on the Olympic Peninsula, then they may be doing so in higher, isolated pockets of habitat," says Betsy Howell, a U.S. Forest Service biologist with the Olympic National Forest. "Getting to these areas can be challenging, particularly during the winter months, which are the most ideal for carnivore surveys.”
What to expect and how to sign up
If you're interested in learning winter wildlife tracking techniques or just want to combine your outdoor adventures with a wildlife conservation project, then the pine martin project needs you. You don't need any tracking experience to sign up, but applicants should have basic winter camping skills and the ability/desire to walk, ski or snowshoe long distances over rugged terrain in the snow.
What's at stake? See last year's volunteers in action
More citizen science opportunities:
From butterflies to birds, several other organizations also have citizen science programs for hikers: