Northwest Carnivore Science and Conservation Program

Working for a wild future for Northwest carnivores.


Under the Living Northwest umbrella, Woodland Park Zoo’s Senior Conservation Scientist, Dr. Robert Long, expands the zoo’s wildlife science and conservation focus to include our Pacific Northwest mammalian carnivores (e.g., wolverines, Canada lynx, coyotes, Martens, fishers, cougars, black bears, grizzly bears). The focus of this program is on developing field research projects to address critical conservation questions relevant to carnivores in the Pacific Northwest, and conducting outreach to ensure the outcomes of this research are available to the public and other scientists.

Long-Range Goals

  • Establish Woodland Park Zoo as a leader for promoting and coordinating carnivore science in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Development of a regional remote camera network designed to complement and enhance separate efforts currently ongoing in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Establishment of multiple conservation research projects aimed at answering important, conservation-related questions about carnivores.


About Northwest Carnivores


The Pacific Northwest has great potential to host a full complement of native large carnivores, including wolves (Canis lupus), wolverines (Gulo gulo), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). In the Lower 48, there is no other place outside of the Rockies sufficiently big and wild enough to afford such an opportunity. Mammalian carnivores such as these—and additionally American black bears, fishers, cougars, and American martens—are wide-ranging and ecologically diverse, providing excellent opportunities for exploring and addressing key questions about ecological connectivity, climate change adaptation, human-wildlife conflict resolution, and other priorities for regional conservation. Further, carnivores can serve as effective umbrella species for the conservation of entire landscapes.


In the Field

The sciences of wildlife field ecology, spatial analysis, and molecular ecology have developed dramatically in recent years. New advances in “noninvasive” techniques, such as digital remote cameras, now enable researchers to detect and monitor species across expansive landscapes. Similarly, noninvasive hair snare mechanisms have been used to collect hair samples (and therefore, DNA) from a variety of carnivores, and professionally trained detection dogs have been employed to locate scat samples for DNA and other biological information. Zoo researchers will be using such methods to assess the distribution, movement, and ecology of carnivores here in the Pacific Northwest.

In the Field

Woodland Park Zoo’s Wild Wise: Coexisting with Carnivores engages middle school students in science investigations on large carnivores (bears, cougars, wolves) and human-carnivore coexistence in their communities. Through this program, facilitated by Woodland Park Zoo, in partnership with Western Wildlife Outreach, Issaquah Middle School students develop skills in scientific practices as they learn about the carnivores that live in their midst. Students use technology tools such as remote cameras and web-based surveys to collect data about carnivores to answer their own questions about patterns of local carnivore activity. The program culminates in a community education event, at which students present the results of their investigations about carnivores in their communities and propose strategies to help their communities coexist safely with carnivores.