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WAABIZHESHIWAG Tracking waabizheshiwag martens in the Chequamegon woods Mellen Wis.She waited patiently for the door of the livetrap to open then darted out. Her auburn fur drew a sharp contrast to the white snow that blanketed the forest. Once Janis was some distance away she plunged through a snowbank popped-out the other side and shook off powdery snow from her coat. After a quick look around to orient herself she bounded north to a nearby patch of large hemlock and white cedar trees and disappeared from sight. Janis did not know it but she was one of three American martens waabi- zheshiwag captured and radio-collared by GLIFWC researchers that January day. Wildlife technician Ron Parisian who has assisted with marten research for more than 20 years noted with excitement that three in one day was a new record Once common across northern Wisconsin martens are now rare and are the states only endangered mammal. In fact they were once extinct from Wisconsin because of over-trapping timber harvest and wildfires. Martens were brought back to the Nicolet National Forest about 40 years ago and to the Chequamegon National Forest nearly 30 years ago. To boost the Chequamegon National Forest CNF population GLIFWC partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Natu- ral Resources Forest Service and others to bring additional martens to the CNF a few years back. Despite this population bump the CNF marten population is thought to still be small. As an original clan animal martens are particularly important to the Ojibwe. Members of the waabizheshi doodem are known as warriors. They traditionally provided for elders and the destitute and in some communities adopted those that did not know their clan. Another role of the marten clan among Ojibwe people has been to maintain order. Similarly waabizheshiwag are carnivores that help to regulate prey populationsthey help to maintain order in the animal community. ThroughdecadesoffieldresearchGLIFWChaslearnedvaluableinformation about marten behavior and ecology. GLIFWC has partnered with universities and other agencies to publish multiple articles in scientific journals that describe how long martens live what they eat what trees they like to rest in and what forest types they hunt in. GLIFWCs waabizheshi research team including Wildlife Section Leader Jon Gilbert and Ialong with technicians Adam Oja Jose Estrada and Ron Parisiancaptured a total of 10 martens last fall and winter using well-sheltered live-traps containing enough food to keep a marten full for days. Each captured martenwasoutfittedwithacollarthathadasmallGPStrackingdeviceaffixedtoit. By Nick McCann GLIFWC Wildlife Biologist In the fall of 2014 Dr. Tim VanDeelen professor at UW-Madison and his students placed trail cameras on Stockton Island as part of a larger carnivore survey for theApostle Islands Lakeshore. In the spring of 2015 these cameraswereretrievedandsurprisingly contained multiple photos of martens sometimes two martens together. The images constitute another confirmation of martens on the archipelago and the first evidence on Stockton Island since 1969. These two confirmations of mar- tens on theApostle Islands caused great excitement amongst those of us who study this species. During the summer of 2015 Dr. Erik Olson professor at Northland College conducted searches forscatorfecesonseveralislands.The scats Olson retrieved were submitted to Dr. Jonathan Pauli professor at UW- Madison for genetic confirmation of species.Inthefallof2015morecameras were placed on several of the islands including those islands from which scat had been collected that summer. We all await the results of these efforts. It could be that there are more martens on several other islands in the ApostleIslandsNationalLakeshore.But we already know that there are some martensonatleasttwoislandsManitou and Stockton. So back to the original questions. Where did these martens Waabizheshi come from Were they always there Were they successfully reintroduced in 1953 Did they recolonize the islands via Red Cliff in the 2010s One may ask how could martens have been there the whole time and no one having observed them Or even howcouldmartenshavebeentheresince 1969 and no one seen them These are good questions but I recall that on Isle Royale also an island in Lake Superior martens were reported to have disap- peared from the island in the 1920s. No evidence of martens was observed on IsleRoyalefromthe1920stothe1980s when researchers studying wolfmoose interactionsontheislandobservedtracks and eventually the martens themselves. After some genetic testing it was deter- mined that the marten population on the island had never died out but had beenpresentthereundetectedformore than 60 years. So it is possible that the martens never died out on the Apostle Islands or that the 1953 reintroduction was successful and martens had been there too undetected for 40 years. Theotherpossibilityisthatmartens recolonized the Apostle Islands after the marten augmentation project in the ChequamegonNationalForest.Thetim- ing of the augmentation 2008-10 and the photos taken on Manitou in 2010 Red Cliff in 2013 and the observations on Manitou in 2014 were coincidental but may be related. Could it be that the martens were released near Clam Lake and wandered up to Red Cliff and then across to the islands It is possible. There are many people very inter- ested in this discovery including the researchers mentioned in this article and their students. Work will continue to determine the extent of the marten population on the islands and try to answer the question as to where they came from. This will involve work withtrailcamerasscatcollectionDNA analyses and other survey techniques. As we begin to unravel this interesting question we will be sure to keep you all informed. Stay tuned. One last question. If martens are moving among islands or if martens colonizedtheislandsfromthemainland thenhowdidtheytravelDidtheymove overtheiceinwinterOrdidtheyswim in summer Both are hard to believe but it has to be one or the other or both What do you think Continued from page 1 We enjoy the up-close-and-personal time we spend with these animals said Oja a Bad River Band member. We give each marten a nickname and look forward to learning everything we can about them. Thenewly-developedGPSunitscanrecordwhereamartentravelsformonths at a time. The team plans to monitor Janis and other collared martens throughout the summer. When fall arrives we will recapture them to learn more about where they have been. Look for waabizheshi research updates in upcoming issues of Mazinaigan and on facebook.comGLIFWC. Nick McCann map PAGE 5 MAZINAIGANSUMMER 2016