Who would have predicted that North Idaho would be ground zero for one of the most comprehensive wildlife studies ever undertaken? The Multi-species Baseline Initiative (MBI)  may sound complex, but the purpose of the study was to answer a simple question-what’s out there?

From slugs to wolverines, the MBI was a massive effort to take stock of species throughout the Idaho Panhandle. Led by Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist, Michael Lucid, hundreds of volunteers took to the field to survey the land and water for wild creatures. Michael divided the Idaho Panhandle into 5 km by 5 km squares, and then sent  volunteers to each cell to conduct the surveys.  From 2010 to 2014, biologists and volunteers surveyed 2,315 sites and detected 182 species. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game recently published its  findings in a report.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • Fisher are  more abundant in the Cabinet Mountains than anywhere else in the study area.
  • Arboreal mammal species richness, particularly American marten, is lowest in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains.
  • Three individual male wolverines were detected.
  • Five individual (2 males, 3 females) Canada lynx were detected.
  • Northern leopard frogs, native to northern Idaho, appear to be extirpated.
  • Western toads were more abundant in the Selkirks than other portion of the study area.

Prior to the MBI, biologists had very limited data about the distribution of wildlife in North Idaho. This landmark study will enable wildlife managers to make more informed decisions about the conservation of the creatures that we  all enjoy and cherish.