Science lecture at Sheridan College to explore wolverine monitoring and conservation

Nichole Bjornlie, a nongame mammal biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, will give a lecture called “Multi-State Wolverine Monitoring and Conservation” on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in Mars Agriculture Center Room 201 at Sheridan College. This event is free and open to the public.

Part of the Sheridan College Museum of Discovery Science Lecture Series, Bjornlie will discuss wolverine ecology, history in Wyoming and results of work conducted by the Department and other western states to learn more about this popular, but secretive, species.

According to Bjornlie, wolverines have long been popular in mythology, as sports mascots and in popular culture. However, despite their popularity, wolverines are rarely seen and little is known about their status and distribution in Wyoming, which lies at the southern edge of their continental range. Concerns about the vulnerability of wolverines to climate change led to a petition to list the species in 2000, and a federal court ruling recently remanded the 2014 not warranted finding, returning wolverines to proposed threatened status. In response to the petition, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming, with support of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, initiated the Western States Wolverine Conservation Project in 2015 with the goal to assess current distribution and identify conservation actions.

Bjornlie has worked in conservation and management of nongame and sensitive mammals since 2006. An Iowa native, she received her bachelor’s in animal ecology from Iowa State University in 2006 and her master’s in natural resources from the University of Arizona in 2009 studying the ecology and space use of the endemic Arizona gray squirrel. Since joining the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in 2010, she has worked with species ranging from prairie dogs, pygmy rabbits and Preble’s meadow jumping mice to swift fox, bats and black-footed ferrets. In 2015, Bjornlie was hired as the nongame mammal biologist where she oversees nongame mammal management and inventory for the state of Wyoming.

The next lecture in the Sheridan College Museum of Discovery Science Series is “Studying Mule Deer in the Upper Powder River Country” by Cheyenne Stewart, wildlife biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Buffalo, on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. Sheridan College is located at 1 Whitney Way in Sheridan. For more information about this or upcoming lectures, contact Dr. Scott Newbold at snewbold@sheridan.edu or call 307-675-0770.