Small mammals and hares

Survey Protocols

Protocols for the small mammals and hares surveys have been the same since 1990. Partners at each location have the flexibility to alter methods to suit local circumstances, but the recommended procedures should be considered. These protocols have been approved by the GNWT Wildlife Care Committee for use within the NWT. Approval reviews and annual filing documents are available upon request.

Museum Special Snap Trapping

Museum Special Snap Trapping are the recommended method for the NWT. Send all specimens to either the coordinator for the survey or to an accredited museum to confirm species identification and for permanent storage for future studies. The recommended long-term repository for NWT specimens is the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

Live trapping

Live Trapping is the accepted method for the NWT.  It is recommended only if the location personnel are very familiar with species identification and protocols for handling wildlife and are prepared to invest the extra time required for this method. Location coordinators can use any live traps deemed adequate for the species expected at the site (e.g., Longworth or Sherman traps). Please communicate with the Survey coordinator for more details on recommended traps. This method may not be appropriate for lemmings or tundra locations. The Nest Survey protocol (Lemming Sign Surveys) is an alternative non-destructive protocol.

Small Mammal data are reported as capture indices, defined by number of trapped individuals per 100 trap-nights, corrected based on Beauvais G. P. & Buskirk, S. 1999. Modifying estimates of sampling effort to account for sprung traps. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 27:  39-43, except where noted in site description. Capture indices during this survey are used as an indicator of abundance in a specific area (i.e., density).

Hare Pellet Count

The hare pellet count is the only recommended method for hare surveys in the NWT. Hare abundance is measured as number of snowshoe hares per hectare, corrected according to Krebs, C.J., Boonstra, R., Nams, V. O’Donoghue, M., Hodges, K.E., Boutin S. 2001. Estimating snowshoe hare population density from pellet plots: a further evaluation. Can. J. Zool. 79:1-4. A modification of this protocol is being developed for monitoring annual variations in abundance of Arctic hares. Also see Murray, D, Ellsworth, E, Zack, A. 2005. Assessment of potential bias with snowshoe hare pellet-plot counts. J. of Wildl. Manage. 69: 385-395.

GNWT Identification Booklet

The GNWT Small Mammal Identification is shared for convenience only. We do not make any guaranty of accuracy or usefulness. Some small mammal species are very hard to identify in the field. For example, southern and northern red-back voles may only be positively identified in the lab. We encourage all location coordinators to store specimens in a recognized museum and to share information on species distribution and identification with the survey coordinator who will share it with all other coordinators.