The wolverine's world is shrinking. But they've found a safe haven in B.C. mountains_best freckle removal cream uk

The wolverine's world is shrinking. But they've found a safe haven in B.C. mountainsWhat on Earth's Molly Segal straps on her snowshoes in search of the elusive wolverine and hears how climate safe havens may help them in a warming world.

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Climate 'refugias' are buffering wolverines from effects of climate change. For now.

CBC Radio(Molly Segal/CBC)

British Columbia is already feeling the impacts of climate change with last June's devastating heatwave.  As the province continues to warm, southeastern B.C. will get less precipitation, or will see snowy months become more rainy.

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But Utzig notes this triangle of mountains is high enough to stay cooler than similar areas in the region over the next century. Which is important for wolverines, who generally build their dens in snow, and also use it to stash scavenged food, much like a refrigerator. 

While a climate refugia may buffer wildlife from some impacts of climate change for now, "these areas are last-ditch efforts … the only thing that is going to resolve these issues is stopping emitting carbon, and leaving fossil fuels in the ground," said Utzig.

WATCH | It takes a bit of trickery to get wolverines to co-operate for photographs:

How researcher Mirjam Barrueto photographs wolverines

8 days agoDuration 1:01A wolverine climbs a run pole to eat bait at a camera trap set up by researcher Mirjam Barrueto in the northern Purcell Mountains, west of Golden, B.C.

Iconic critters in B.C., including grizzly bears, mountain caribou, and wolverines, like these cool, wet environments, said Utzig. And the hope, he explained, is that if we can restore our climate over the coming centuries, the animals can re-disperse from these refuges. 

Barrueto's research aims to figure out how to make that future possible for wolverines. 

"If we can keep the population strong here … then we also know that their habitat's actually going to stick around," said Barrueto. 

The future is female

To know how successful this climate refugia will be for wolverines, Barrueto focuses on the females. 

Whether or not female wolverines are having babies — their kits — paints a picture of how likely that population is to survive. 

Barrueto is not yet clear exactly what types of disturbances and activities female wolverines can tolerate in this region of B.C. While some of the area she studies falls into parks, much of it is home to towns, the logging industry, recreation like backcountry skiing, or used by humans in other ways. 

Barrueto checks a camera at a site west of Golden where she captures videos and photos of the wolverine population. (Molly Segal/CBC)

He said overpasses so wildlife can make it across highways, and leaving green space to connect these "remnant" populations is key to their future in a warming world. 

"Wolverines were here long before us. We have a moral obligation and as well as a legal mandate to maintain wolverines … in the places that they have historically lived," said Fisher. 

If wolverines can thrive in the triangle between Golden, Revelstoke and Mt. Robson, it would bode well for their future in that region. So Barrueto will keep baiting them, and studying the images and videos she captures, hoping to find a balance of how wolverines, people and industry can all survive there.

"We need to know which things we need to stop doing and which things really aren't that big of a problem," Barrueto said. 

Written and produced by Molly Segal.


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