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McKenna misstates facts on wolverine studies

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Dear HCN,

In the article on snowmobiles by Douglas Schnitzspahn (HCN, 2/4/02: Snowmobilers rev up for roadless riding) there was a glaring error which I felt emboldened to bring to your attention. Pat McKenna is quoted as saying "scientific studies have proven that the paths that snowmobiles create up there (Mount Jefferson, Mont.) disturb wolverines and other critical wildlife." This statement is totally erroneous. There are NO such scientific studies to support this claim. How can I be so certain, you may ask? Because my husband, Dick Staiger, and his 4-H Natural Resources Club in Alta, Wyo., began its wolverine project in 1997 by building three traps in the parking lot of Grand Targhee Ski Resort and started the only wolverine study in Wyoming.

Access to traps was by snowmachine and many agencies have been involved. The wolverines were not disturbed from the traps by skiers or snowmachines. We are in the process of gathering the data to be used by scientists, but there are few studies. We would be happy to write an article for your paper about the wolverine study since its inception. It is a good story! But it rankles our sensibilities to see a blatant misstatement in print. The problem becomes that people will believe what they read first and discount a subsequent retraction. We hope you sense our passion on this issue.

Mary Carol Staiger
Alta, Wyoming

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