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Inventory Methods for
Wolf and Cougar

Standards for Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity No. 34

Prepared by
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
Resources Inventory Branch
for the Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force
Resources Inventory Committee

May 12, 1998
Version 2.0

Back to Task Force Index


This manual presents standard methods for inventory of wolves and cougars in British Columbia at three levels of inventory intensity: presence/not detected (possible), relative abundance, and absolute abundance. The manual was compiled by the Elements Working Group of the Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force, under the auspices of the Resources Inventory Committee (RIC). The objectives of the working group are to develop inventory methods that will lead to the collection of comparable, defensible, and useful inventory and monitoring data for the species component of biodiversity.

This manual is one of the Standards for Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity (CBCB) series which present standard protocols designed specifically for group of species with similar inventory requirements. The series includes an introductory manual (Species Inventory Fundamentals No. 1) which describes the history and objectives of RIC, and outlines the general process of conducting a wildlife inventory according to RIC standards, including selection of inventory intensity, sampling design, sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. The Species Inventory Fundamentals manual provides important background information and should be thoroughly reviewed before commencing with a RIC wildlife inventory. RIC standards are also available for vertebrate taxonomy (No. 2), animal capture and handling (No. 3), and radio-telemetry (No. 5). Field personnel should be thoroughly familiar with these standards before engaging in inventories which involve either of these activities.

Standard data forms are required for all RIC wildlife inventory. Survey-specific data forms accompany most manuals while general wildlife inventory forms are available in the Species Inventory Fundamentals No. 1 [Forms] (previously referred to as the Dataform Appendix). This is important to ensure compatibility with provincial data systems, as all information must eventually be included in the Species Inventory Datasystem (SPI). For more information about SPI and data forms, visit the Species Inventory Homepage at:

It is recognized that development of standard methods is necessarily an ongoing process. The CBCB manuals are expected to evolve and improve very quickly over their initial years of use. Field testing is a vital component of this process and feedback is essential. Comments and suggestions can be forwarded to the Elements Working Group by contacting:

Species Inventory Unit
Wildlife Inventory Section, Resource Inventory Branch
Ministry of Environment, Lands & Parks
P.O. Box 9344, Station Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9M1
Tel: (250) 387 9765



Funding of the Resources Inventory Committee work, including the preparation of this document, is provided by the Corporate Resource Inventory Initiative (CRII) and by Forest Renewal BC (FRBC). Preliminary work of the Resources Inventory Committee was funded by the Canada-British Columbia Partnership Agreement of Forest Resource Development FRDA II.

The Resources Inventory Committee consists of representatives from various ministries and agencies of the Canadian and the British Columbia governments as well as from First Nations peoples. RIC objectives are to develop a common set of standards and procedures for the provincial resources inventories, as recommended by the Forest Resources Commission in its report "The Future of our Forests".

For further information about the Resources Inventory Committee and its various Task Forces, please contact:

The Executive Secretariat

Resources Inventory Committee

840 Cormorant Street

Victoria, BC V8W 1R1

Tel: (250) 920-0661

Fax: (250) 384-1841


Terrestrial Ecosystems Task Force

All decisions regarding protocols and standards are the responsibility of the Resources Inventory Committee. Background information and protocols presented are based on the unpublished draft manual, A Methodology for Surveying Bears, Wolves and Cougars in British Columbia, prepared by E. Todd Manning, A. Grant MacHutchon and John M. Cooper of Branta Educational Consultants, with assistance from A. Hamilton, A. Derocher, D. Janz, L. Carbyn, K. Atkinson, R. Hayes, R. Stephenson, P. Clarkson, M. Jalkotzy, J. Gunson, F. Hovey, K. Goh, B. Webster and B. Spreadbury.

The Components of British Columbia's Biodiversity series is currently edited by James Quayle with data form development by Leah Westereng.


Table of Contents

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data





2.1 Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) M-CALU

2.1.1 Distribution

2.1.2 Status

2.1.3 Territory Size and Population Densities

2.1.4 Diet and Habitat Use

2.2 Cougar (Puma concolor) M-PUCO

2.2.2 Distribution

2.2.3 Status

2.2.4 Home Range Size and Population Densities

2.2.5 Diet and Habitat Use

3. PROTOCOL - General

3.1 Sampling Standards

3.1.1 Personnel

3.1.2 Weather

3.1.3 Time of Year

3.1.4 Habitat Data Standards

3.1.5 Survey Design Hierarchy

3.2 Preliminary Survey

3.2.1 Office procedures

3.2.2 Sampling Design

3.2.3 Sampling Effort

3.2.4 Personnel

3.2.5 Equipment

3.2.6 Procedures

3.2.7 Data Analysis

3.3 Inventory Surveys

4. PROTOCOL - Wolves

4.1 Presence/Not detected- Wolves

4.1.1 Scat and Track Surveys - Wolves

4.2 Relative Abundance- Wolves

4.2.1 Scat and Track Surveys - Wolves

4.2.2 Aerial Snow-tracking - Wolves

4.3 Absolute Abundance - Wolves

4.3.1 Aerial Snow-tracking - Wolves

4.3.2 Radio-telemetry - Wolves

4.3.3 Combination of Aerial Snow-tracking and Radio-telemetry - Wolves

5. PROTOCOL - Cougars

5.1 Presence/Not detected and Relative Abundance - Cougars

5.1.1 Cougar Aerial Snow-tracking and Road Track Counts

5.2 Absolute Abundance - Cougars

5.2.1 Aerial Track Probability Sampling - Cougars

5.2.2 Radio-telemetry




List of Figures

Figure 1. RIC species inventory survey design hierarchy with examples.

Figure 2. The front paw of a wolf (Halfpenny and Biesiot 1986). Scale is 2.5 cm.

Figure 3. Illustration of cougar track characteristics (Source: Shaw 1979).

Figure 4. Systematic survey design to estimate numbers of animals in a study area using snow-tracking (after Becker 1991 and Van Sickle and Lindzey 1991).


List of Tables

Table 1. Types of inventory surveys, the data forms needed, and the level of intensity of the survey.

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Copyright ? 1998 Province of British Columbia

Published by the Resources Inventory Committee