Wolverines In Oregon

Note: Repost from the old blog.

Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Washington, Idaho (here and here), Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, the Upper Midwest and New Mexico. There are also five separate posts on the wolverine in California.

This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Re-discovered After 86 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the state of Oregon.

It is true that there have been no proven occurrences of wolverines in Oregon since 1992, but there is considerable anecdotal evidence that they live there, including many sightings. Five wolverines have been collected since 1965, one live and four dead. That’s four more than have been collected in California.

Further, aerial surveys in recent years have found discovered what appear to be wolverine tracks, snow tunnels and in a few cases winter dens on the top of high Oregon peaks. No such findings have turned up in California, but no aerial surveys have yet been attempted either. All of this implies that the wolverine is in better shape in Oregon than in California.

The wolverine seems to be in best shape in Washington, then in Oregon, and finally in worst shape in California.

In Oregon, a wolverine was trapped in 1986 in Wheeler County, a wolverine was found dead on I-84 in Hood River County in 1990 and another was recovered as a partial skeleton in Grant County 1992.


An unnamed lake at the end of an unnamed trail in the Wallowa Mountains in far northeast Oregon. This is definitely a Great Basin Range. On April 2 and April 13, 2011, two wolverines were spotted on trail cams here in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In addition, tracks were found. This was the first positive proof of wolverines in Oregon in 19 years.

Early March surveys by airplane in 1997-98 (video of the aerial surveys with awesome footage of a live wolverine and tracks in winter in Washington) found 12 sets of tracks, 2 snow tunnels and one possible wolverine den on the Mount Thielsen Wilderness and two sets of tracks on the Rogue/Umpqua Divide Wilderness, both on the Umpqua National Forest.

The elevations in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness were 7,000-7,200 feet.



On March 8, 1997, state and federal biologists found three sets of possible wolverine tracks on 7,000 foot+ ridgelines north of Mt. Thielsen in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness on the Umpqua National Forest. One set of tracks included a possible wolverine den. On the same day, researchers noted possible wolverine tracks at the head of Devil’s Canyon on nearly Mt. Bailey (8,375 feet).

Mt. Thielsen is a 9,182 foot peak. On March 20, 1998, a federal biologist spotted eight sets of possible wolverine tracks and two possible wolverine snow tunnels in this wilderness area.


The spectacular sweeping and dense forests of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. On March 10-11, 1998, state and federal biologists spotted two possible sets of wolverine tracks here.


In 1998 in more March surveys, more tracks were found at 8,000 feet on Mt. McLoughlin and on Devil’s Peak in the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Winema and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, and more were seen in 1998 at Fuller Lake in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.


On March 20, 1998, state and federal wildlife biologists spotted possible wolverine tracks at 8,000 feet on the north side of Mt. McLoughlin, shown here. The mountain rises to 9,495 feet. This peak is west of Upper Klamath Lake, north of Mount Shasta in California and south of Crater Lake.


Devil’s Peak (7,300 feet) in the Sky Lakes Wilderness south of Crater Lake National Park. Possible wolverine tracks were seen by an aerial crew here on March 20, 1998. Note the ugly clearcuts in the background. This is why I oppose clearcutting so much. It’s totally devastating to a forest to cut it like that.


Wolverine tracks were photographed on the side of a Jeep near Silverton, Oregon in Marion County. The sighting occurred in October 15, 2009. The photo was shown to a zoologist, Charles Clapsaddle, who identified them as wolverine prints. Sightings occur occasionally in the next county to the south, Linn County, in the foothills of the Cascades.


Steens Mountain in far southeast Oregon. Hikers resting in a streambed saw a wolverine through their binoculars from 1/3 of a mile away on an overhanging hill. They watched him for a number of minutes. He seemed to be digging. In addition, a wolverine was trapped and released here in 1973. This is high desert, but note the road-killed wolverine above in similar high desert territory at the Dalles.

The area used to be full of lakes and was very lush and productive. Various California Indian tribes like the Miwok, Yokuts and Ohlone probably originated here over 5,000 years ago during the wet weather.

They then moved down the Oregon-California border to Lake Tahoe, where they crossed into the Delta. From there, they probably split to become the Ohlone, Miwok and Yokuts. These three language groups do seem to be related, but the degree of their relatedness is not known. Some say they are all just under Penutian, with no special relationship amongst them.

Strawberry Lake in the Blue Mountains in the Strawberry Lake Wilderness Area. Wolverines were seen on two separate occasions on the Wenaha Unit in the Blue Mountains, one in 2006 and another in 1991. A timber wolf was also seen here, probably a wanderer from Idaho. Another Great Basin Range in Eastern Oregon.


A spectacular shot of the Boulder Creek Wilderness in Oregon. Photo taken by T. A. Klingenberg. On March 10-11, 1998, surveyors found possible wolverine tracks here.


There was an unverified sighting of a wolverine on the Umpqua Trail near Roseberg, Oregon in 2001 along the Jessie Wright Trail Segment in the Umpqua National Forest.


The North Umpqua Trail on the Umpqua National Forest. There was an unverified sighting of a wolverine here in 2001 in Jessie Wright segment of the trail in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.

In 1996, a wolverine was seen on a trail leading down from a peak near Olallie Lake on the Mount Hood National Forest.

In 1993, a wolverine was spotted during summer on Road 100 in the Rogue River National Forest north or Rancheria Road.


This is a recent photo of the area along Cobleigh Road in Butte Falls, Oregon. In summer 1993, there was an unverified sighting of a wolverine on Road 100 in the Rogue River NF, which is about 6 miles northwest of here. This is in the same general area as the sighting around Prospect, Oregon, in the Rogue River Gorge.

In Autumn 1992, a wolverine was seen on Dead Indian Road near Lily Glen.

This is Dead Indian Road in the Umpqua National Forest. There was an unverified wolverine sighting seen here in Autumn 1992 near the Lily Glen Equestrian Area, an historical site that preserves one of the area’s first settlements.

In October 1990, a hunter saw a wolverine at Mill Creek six miles north of Prospect in the Rogue River NF.

Mill Creek Falls north of Prospect, Oregon in the Rogue River Gorge. There was an unverified wolverine sighting on Mill Creek in October 1990. An elk hunter saw one at his camp 6 miles north of Prospect.

Wolverine tracks have been seen on the Diamond Lakes Ranger District of the Umpqua.

A wolverine was seen south of La Pine in northern Klamath County in the 1990’s.

Tracks were confirmed on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the northeastern part of Oregon in the 1990’s, and during the same period, possible wolverine sign was detected on the Malheur, Deschutes, Rogue, and Fremont National Forests. In addition, wolverine tracks were seen at Snow Bunny Snow Park on the Mount Hood National Forest in 1990.

There was an incredible finding west of the Dalles at Rowena on the Colombia River in 1990 when a wolverine was run over by a car. This area is hot, dry Great Basin steppe and is far from any wilderness area. This goes to show that wolverines live in many locales in the West, including the high, dry Great Basin plateaus and mountains.

The Dalles near Rowena Gorge. It’s hard to believe that wolverines live in such hot and dry terrain, but apparently they do. A wolverine was killed by a car here on Highway 84 in 1990.

In the late 1970’s, local newspapers carried multiple reports of wolverine sightings around Chemult on the Umpqua National Forest.

In 1965, a wolverine was shot on Three-Fingered Jack Mountain in the Oregon Cascades. This was the first confirmed report since 1912.

Three-Fingered-Jack Mountain in the Oregon Cascades, where a wolverine was shot by a hunter in 1965, the first verified report of a wolverine since 1912. At the time, the wolverine was thought to be extinct in the state.


Since then, wolverines have been reported from the Cascades, as noted above, and in addition in northeastern Oregon in the Blue Mountains, the Wallowas, and even on Steens Mountain in the far southeast of the state.

There have also been sightings recently near Pullman in southeastern Oregon near the Idaho border.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife feels that wolverines occur or are suspected to occur in the following counties: Baker, Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco and Wheeler.


Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Predator Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, and Superior Wilderness Action Network. 2000. Petition for a Rule to List the wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act within the Contiguous United States. Submitted to the U.S. Dept. of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service on July 11, 2000.

Predator Conservation Alliance. 2001. Predator Conservation Alliance’s Literature Summary – Draft – January 24, 2001 – Draft Conservation Status and Needs of the Wolverine (Gulo gulo).


Filed under Americas, Animals, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Oregon, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, USA, West, Wildlife, Wolverines

20 responses to “Wolverines In Oregon

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  14. In the website field I’ve posted a link to potential evidence of a Wolverine in Silverton Oregon (Marion County). He found the tracks on the side of his Jeep one morning approximately one meter off the ground. This picture was taken by my brother in Oct. 2009 and his comments are shown below…


    I showed the prints to a zoologist (Charles Clapsaddle) and a rural vet I know who lives in the Idaho panhandle (his home has a view of Canada). Both independently identified the prints as wolverine. Apparently, wolverine are not uncommon on the eastern side of the valley in the Cascade foothills in Linn county. This most likely happened yesterday morning in Silverton.

  15. Aerial survey subsumes two major areas, aviation and photogrammetry.

  16. Greg Chilcote

    I come from Klamath Falls, OR and recall local newspaper reports of multiple sitings of a wolverine north of Chiloquin, in the vicinity of Chemult in the late 1970’s. I am confident the animal has been back in the area, at least since that time, and may never have been fully extirpated as previously believed. Either way, the presence of this symbol of true wilderness in Oregon is very encouraging.

  17. Jackson

    Three friends and I saw a wolverine in the Steen’s mountains in July of 2009. We observed him from a stream we were sitting in, with binoculars, about 1/3 of a mile away high above us on an overhanging hill for some number of minutes. He looked like he was digging. It was the last place I ever epected to see such an animal, as I had thought them extinct in the lower 48.

  18. mike pearson

    I saw a wolverine cross in front of me as I was going over the cascades… middle of winter …. way up high…. it was traveling north very near if not on the Pacific crest trail

  19. Pingback: Wolverine Killed in North Dakota! | Beyond Highbrow - Robert Lindsay

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