Assessment of the Sustainability of Wolverine Harvest in British Columbia, Canada



ABSTRACT  Wolverines (Gulo gulo) are distributed across much of northern and western Canada and Alaska, USA, and they extend south into the mountainous western United States. Wolverines occur in most regions of British Columbia, Canada, with the highest population densities occurring in the interior mountainous areas. Wolverine populations in British Columbia have been primarily managed to provide a sustainable harvest for trappers and hunters. We used spatially based population estimates, population vital rate data, and spatially based harvest data to evaluate the sustainability of wolverine harvest (trapping and hunting) from 1985 to 2004. The median annual provincial wolverine harvest from 1985 to 2004 was 172 wolverines per year (inline image = 174.8), which was less than the median simulated estimate of provincial recruitment (195.9 wolverines/yr; inline image = 209.7). Harvests in individual population units ranged from 0 to 280 over the 20-year period. Spatially, wolverine harvest was likely to have been unsustainable in 15 of the 71 population units with wolverines, and it was likely to have been sustainable in the remaining population units. Harvest in 5 of the other 56 population units was marginally sustainable and thus of potential management concern. To improve harvest management of wolverines in British Columbia, wildlife managers should focus on improved data collection and monitoring at a provincial scale, and they should work with trappers and hunters at regional scales to address issues specific to individual population units. Further research is required to improve the reliability of wolverine vital rate and population data.