Low densities and wide-ranging behaviour make wolverines Gulo gulo difficult to monitor. We used quadrat sampling of tracks in snow to estimate wolverine populations. We conducted aerial surveys in upper Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains (TAKM) in south-central Alaska and in Old Crow Flats (OCF) in northern Yukon during March 2004 following procedures for the sample-unit probability estimator (SUPE). This technique uses network sampling of tracks in snow in a stratified random system of quadrats or sample units. In TAKM, we sampled 87 (51%) out of 171 quadrats within a survey area of 4,340 km2. The estimated density was 3.0 (± 0.4 SE) wolverines/1,000 km2 with a coefficient of variation (CV) of 12.0%. In OCF, we sampled 96 (71%) out of 135 quadrats within a survey area of 3,375 km2. The estimated density was 9.7 (± 0.6 SE) wolverines/1,000 km2 with a CV of 6.5%. Our results indicated that the SUPE technique is an efficient method of obtaining precise estimates of wolverine population size under markedly different environmental conditions and population densities. We suggest that, where practical, it may be a less labour-intensive and more cost-effective technique for estimating wolverine abundance compared with techniques that do not use probability sampling of tracks.
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