Category Archives: Mustelids

Why the Wolverines in the Midwest Post Is Important

This is why the Wolverines in the Midwest post is significant. It is probably the most thorough account on the Net of wolverine sightings in the Upper Midwest.

The bottom line is wolverines are not just in Michigan and North Dakota where they have been proven to exist, but they are surely in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and even unbelievably Nebraska. I also have one sighting in Missouri, incredible as it sounds.

In my opinion, the Great Plains and the Upper Midwest used to be wolverine territory, and they are now reclaiming it. They may well even breed there, as I have sightings of kits alive and dead and two wolverines walking together, one behind the other (probably a mother and father). There are also a number of sightings of females, though I am not sure how they figured that out. I do not agree that the wolverines on the Plains are wanderers. I believe they actually live there somehow. We should get new records from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, Iowa and maybe even Nebraska in the forseeable future. That North Dakota wolverine was not a fluke.

The significance of this is that both the best available science and all US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) wolverine documents hypothesize that wolverines never lived in the Midwest or the East, even though we have records from all of these places. The argument is that they were wanderers or possibly never existed at all. How a wolverine wanders from Ontario, Canada to Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire is beyond me.

In 1918, a biologist spotted two young wolverines in New Hampshire. Those do not seem to be wanderers, and the biologist though they were evidence of breeding. Further, now that we are documenting so many wolverines in the Upper Midwest, the simplest explanation is not that they are all transients and wanderers, but that they actually lived there. 25 wolverines were trapped in Eastern North Dakota alone between 1801-1806. There is no way that you can trap that many wolverines in such a small area unless they are a resident population.

The USFWS, wolverine biologists, and the Wolverine Foundation all state there never was a resident wolverine population in the Midwest or the East.

I do not know the motives of the Wolverine Foundation, but I know that some of these environmental groups actually get angry when they see their favored species expanding out of its known range. Why? Because they are trying to get the thing listed as endangered! If it is expanding its range, maybe it is not rare enough to be listed, get it? They actually want these animals to be rare and they are not happy when they appear to be more common. Sort of the law of unintended consequences.

I wonder what the motivation is for USFWS saying that wolverines never lived in the Midwest or back East. Possibly because that would extend their historic range that much further, so whereas now we maybe say wolverines occupy 15% of their historic range, if you include all that Midwest and back East, maybe they only occupy 3% of their historic range. 3% is worse than 15% and any animal that is only occupying 3% of its historic range seems like it needs to be listed, and USFWS does not want to list them. Is that it?

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Repost: Wolverines in the Upper Midwest

I spent quite a bit of time on this post recently and it got a massive update due to the wolverine that was killed in North Dakota. That post was a huge success and traffic went though the roof for a few days as my post got linked around quite a bit. It even got linked to the MSM in this article from the Capital Journal of Pierre, South Dakota. I have never heard of this illustrious journal before, but I must say that that Midwestern hick journalist sure did a bang-up job. You never really realize how much excellence there is in the world until you actually look around and notice it for once. Cynics are wrong. The competence of our species never fails to amaze me.

The article refers to me as a “wolverine expert, a hat I will be happy to try on if not wear regularly. I wear quite a few hats as it is, and there’s not a whole lot of room left in my polymathic/dilettantish identity wardrobe. It’s getting to where some days I actually get out of bed and wonder who I am today.

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

This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Rediscovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the Upper Midwest. Until recently, wolverines had been extinct in the Upper Midwest for 85-200 years.

However, one was photographed recently in Michigan. Furthermore, there have been some tantalizing sightings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota and even a few in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri in recent years. It is distinctly possible the wolverines may be reclaiming some of their historical territory in the Upper Midwest. If so, this is fascinating indeed.

In 2004, a wolverine was photographed in Ubly, Michigan, 90 miles north of Detroit. They were extirpated from Michigan almost 200 years ago.

DNA testing of this wolverine showed that it was from Alaska. How it got from Alaska to Michigan is anyone’s guess. On March 14, 2010, this wolverine was found dead in Sanilac County, Michigan, south of where it was originally sighted in Ubly.

There have been other sightings in Lower Michigan. In November 1958, a wolverine was seen near Cadillac, Michigan by a boy who was deer hunting. A wolverine was sighted around 1998-2000 in Tawas, Michigan. In August 2009, a wolverine was spotted by motorists twice in short period of time just outside of Alpena, Michigan which is on the shore of Lake Huron in the far north of the Thumb near the Upper Peninsula. In November 2009, four people spotted a wolverine outside of West Brach, Michigan in the north of the Thumb south of Huron National Forest.

These wolverines could have come down from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan because there are wolverine sightings there. Or possibly they could have come from Southern Ontario near Port Huron, though that area is densely populated. There is known to be a population in Ontario, albeit in the northern part.

The sightings on the Upper Peninsula have been in Delta County, Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the Keweenaw Peninsula. I assume that the Upper Peninsula population came from Ontario, possibly across the St. Mary’s River, if it freezes over in wintertime.

A forest road in Delta County, Michigan. This road is in Escanaba State Forest. A wolverine was sighted here in an unverified sighting sometime between 1999-2004. During this period, there was about one wolverine sighting a year in Michigan, all from the Upper Peninsula.

The forests here have been changed massively from 100 years ago, when most of the White Pine was logged off. I assume what we have here is Eastern second-growth forest coming back in after the old growth was logged off. This second-growth explosion is fueling an increase in wildlife numbers, especially deer, all over the East Coast.

Tahquamenon Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. This area is located at the far east end of the UP near Ontario. The town of Paradise is nearby, as is Whitefish Bay. If the St. Mary’s River is frozen over, wolverines may well come down from Ontario to the UP. The part of Ontario near Sault Saint Marie is pretty sparsely populated. An unverified sighting of a wolverine was reported here in 2002.

 

There was also an unverified wolverine sighting in the UP on November 21, 2001 at 3 PM, crossing Highway M-64 1 mile south of Silver City in Ontonagon County. In August 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the UP in the garden of the Big Bay Lighthouse on Lake Superior.

In the late 2000’s, there was rash of wolverine sightings around Babbitt, Minnesota, which is near Ely in the far northeastern part of the state near Canada. A tiny lynx population has recently also been confirmed there. The sightings around Babbitt appear to be genuine. Babbitt is surrounded by the Superior National Forest and there are frequent sightings of bears and even wolves in the area, even inside city limits.

In addition, there was one documented sighting in northeastern Minnesota in 1965, but details are lacking. In 1974 there was a report of a wolverine in a hay field in north-central Minnesota, near the North Woods. There was also a sighting on Koochiching County on the Minnesota border with Canada in 1982. That sighting was deemed credible.

In early 2008, there have been reports of dog and horse kills in and around Rollag, Minnesota lately. Certain things about the killings indicate that a wolverine may be doing this. Rollag is far to the north, getting up near the North Woods. It is east of and not far from Fargo, North Dakota.

There is also a report of a wolverine captured on a security camera in 2005-2006 at a Ford dealership in the town of Zumbrota in Southeast Minnesota. This land is very much prairie.

In 1991, a baby wolverine was seen dying by the side of the road on Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota. The motorists did not know how rare it was or else they would have kept the carcass. In 1999, a wolverine was spotted by a canoeist in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota on the border of Ontario, Canada.

In November 2004, a wolverine was seen eating a gut pile from a dead deer near Askov, Minnesota. In 2005, a wolverine was spotted in the Tamarack National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. In Summer 2006, a fisherman fishing in the Narrows between Big and Little Cut Foot Sioux Lakes in Northern Minnesota saw a wolverine. He was able to watch it for 15 minutes until it caught his scent and left. In Summer 2008, a wolverine was spotted in the forest of Eagles Nest, Minnesota, south of Ely and north of Tower. In Fall 2008, a hunter spotted a wolverine in the Black Brook Swamp east of Camp Ripley, Minnesota.

In 2010, a deer hunter saw a wolverine in Douglas County, Minnesota. Another wolverine was photographed near there five years later. In July 2010, a wolverine was seen by a motorist at night on US 53 ten miles south of International Falls, Minnesota. In Summer 2010, a wolverine was seen outside of Chisholm, Minnesota near Superior State Park.

In July 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 232 near Lake Nichols close to Cotton, Minnesota.

On January 12, 2012, a wolverine was spotted somewhere in Southern Minnesota. Someone went out to their car late at night, and a wolverine was by the garage. Tracks were found the very next day. On July 12, 2012, two hunters saw a wolverine while driving on the Dick’s Parkway road 13 miles south of Warroad, Minnesota. The GPS location was given as 48 42.131, -95 20.566. On October 20, 2012 at midnight, a wolverine was seen on someone’s driveway in Ham Lake, Minnesota.

At 6 PM on On October 13, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Superior National Forest crossing Pike Lake Road on the east side of Pike Lake between Lutsen and Grand Marais, Minnesota. This is seven miles from Lake Superior. On June 6, 2014, a wolverine was spotted in Jordan, Minnesota in a corn and alfalfa field. It was running away from a neighbor’s elk ranch. Two men observed it for a full two minutes. The areas consists of open farm country with some random tree lines.

On June 13, 2014 at 2:30 in the afternoon, a wolverine was seen crossing Road 327 in Watowan County, Minnesota. It was seen two miles east and six miles north of Saint James, Minnesota on the Watowan River.

On April 30, 2015, two wolverines were seen running, one behind the other, just east of Rush City, Minnesota in the Saint Croix River Valley. In May 2015, a wolverine was photographed by a trail cam in Douglas County, Minnesota. I have seen the photo and felt that it was interesting but inconclusive. I showed the photo to a wolverine expert, and he also said it could be a wolverine, but it was unclear enough so it was inconclusive.

Old State Route 52 north of Zumbrota, Minnesota. It’s hard to believe that wolverines inhabit such terrain. Wolverines are recolonizing their old habitat on the US prairie. Why?

 

Many have questioned whether wolverines were actually common in prairies or if prairies merely served as population sinks. It is looking more and more like prairies are a natural home for wolverines, strange as it may seem. If these reports are accurate, it means that wolverines are re-colonizing Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and possibly also Iowa, which is fantastic news!

Prairie Island (Sioux) Indian Reservation near Zumbrota, Minnesota. Is it possible that wolverines in the past preyed on the vast buffalo herds of prairie, perhaps especially on dead buffaloes?

 

The occurrence of the wolverine in Wisconsin is very rare but documented.

On an unknown date, a wolverine was spotted on Peshtigo Brook Fire Road where it joins Kitzinger Road near Gillett, Wisconsin.

In May 1978, a wolverine was spotted by a boy and his father while walking along the Oconto River in Oconto County eight miles west of Crooked Lake, Wisconsin. The boy was able to observe it for one minute.

We receive a number of undocumented sightings by email to this site. One man grew up in Land O’ Lakes in Far Northern Wisconsin on the border with Michigan in an area known as the North Woods. This is an area of very thick, wild forest and swamps. There are many wolves, bears and possibly wolverines in this part of Wisconsin.

In 1982, the man saw three wolves in his front yard. In 1990, he and his friends treed 22 different bears in a single day while training bear dogs. They also had a frightening standoff with a wolverine on that day. From about 1983-1995, when he engaged in frequent deer hunting, the man saw one or more wolverines every year.

In September 1990, a wolverine was seen several times over two weeks. The last time the man saw one was in 2006 near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. All sightings took place between 1983-2006 in the North Woods approximately between Rhinelander and Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. The bear density in this region is said to be incredible, or at least it was 10 years ago (Bangs 2009).

In the early 1990’s, a wolverine ran in front of a man’s car in Marinette County, Wisconsin.

A wolverine was photographed on top of a woodpile in Green Lake County, Wisconsin in recent years. The disposition of the photo is unknown. There are also recent sightings in the Black River Falls area and to the north in Wisconsin from 2000-2007. A 2003 sighting in Lafayette County in the far south of the state was regarded as credible by the the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 2004-2005, a wolverine was spotted in Niagara, Wisconsin in the fall on opening day of deer hunting season.

In 2010, a roadkilled wolverine was found by the side of the road in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. In November 2010, a father and son saw a wolverine while sitting in a deer stand north of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

In March 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing Highway 53 between New Auburn and Bloomer, Wisconsin. On July 29, 2011, a wolverine was seen crossing the highway on US 20 east of Sac City, Wisconsin. On November 25, 2011, a deer hunter saw a wolverine run by his blind south of Gillette, Wisconsin. In Fall 2011, a wolverine was seen twice in a one week period by two hunters in Northern Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, one mile south of Brown County. Over the next year, a wolverine, suspected to be the same one as before, was seen in area.

On November 6, 2012, a wolverine was spotted by a man and his girlfriend hunting deer on their farm in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. They observed it for half a minute. A wolverine had been seen in the area 20 years before in the early 1990’s.

In July 2013, a wolverine killed a woman’s two cats at a home at in Wisconsin at Highway 53 and I-94 Highway 9 miles form Eau Claire and 6 miles form Osseo. A few days later, a neighbor came within three feet of a wolverine. Three weeks before, a nearby tavern owner said he had seen a wolverine on a county road. Around the time the woman’s cats vanished, neighbors in the vicinity started seeing their pets disappearing. Before the cats were killed, it had been eating the woman’s cat food for some time. On August 28, 2013, a man saw a wolverine running away from a trash bin at a gas station in Elk Mound, Wisconsin.

On June 13, 2014, a wolverine was seen in a field only two miles north of Independence, Wisconsin.

There have been a few unverified sightings of wolverines in North Dakota recently. In 1988, two wolverines were seen along the Little Missouri River in the Badlands of far western North Dakota by a very experienced fur trapper. In 2004, there was an unverified sighting of a wolverine near Minot. The observer watched it for a good five minutes. On June 23, 2013, a wolverine was seen in the Turtle Mountains in Far Northern North Dakota on the Manitoba border. In February 2015, mailmen spotted a wolverine on their route near Rugby, North Dakota. That is 50 miles east of Minot and 60 miles south of the Manitoba border with Canada.

There have also been wolverine sightings in South Dakota in the past 60 years. There was a verifiable wolverine sighting in the south-central portion of the state in 1961 (Aubry et al 1967). From 1998-2016, an 18 year period, three wolverines were seen in Lake County, South Dakota. One was an adult and two were juveniles. The adult was severely mauled by people’s dogs. On July 12, 2012, someone saw a wolverine near Nisland, South Dakota on the Belle Fourche River in Western South Dakota 25 miles from the Wyoming border. Their neighbor had seen a wolverine shortly before the sighting. People 10 miles northwest of Nisland said that they had seen a wolverine earlier.

A female wolverine was shot dead by a farmer on May 21, 1960 in a cornfield in central Iowa (Haugen 1961). No one quite knew how she ended up in central Iowa. She was infected with Trichinella spiralis, a parasite. (Zimmerman et al 1962). However, one report said that this wolverine had been transported into the state in 1960. There were reports around 1995-2000 of a “black animal” going from north to south through eastern Iowa killing dogs. It may have been a wolverine.

Five different people spotted a wolverine in Southwestern Iowa in 2008. A wolverine was seen in Mid June 2010 near Canton, Iowa near the Maquoketa Caves. In 2011, a bowhunter spotted a wolverine in Southeastern Iowa. In July 2011, three people spotted a wolverine walking across County Road V68 1/4 to 1/2 mile north of Highway 3 in Fayette County, Iowa. It was headed in the direction of the Wapsipinicon River. This is 10 miles north of Fairbank, Iowa.

On July 31, 2011, a wolverine cub was seen on the deck of a house in the hills north of Sioux City, Iowa. In mid-July 2102, a wolverine was photographed in Fonanelle in Adair Country in Southwestern Iowa; however, it is not known what happened to the photograph.

Incredibly enough, there have been a number of wolverine sightings in Nebraska in recent years.

It makes sense because wolverines are native to Nebraska, at least in the more mountainous parts to the north. In the Hall of Nebraska Wildlife in the University of Nebraska Natural History Museum, there is a mounted specimen of a wolverine that was shot on Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska in the 1880’s. That area is in Far Western Nebraska on the North Platte River only 20 miles from the Wyoming border. This part of Nebraska borders on Southeastern Wyoming, which is known to have wolverine populations.

In particular, wolverines have been repeatedly sighted in and around Antelope and Knox Counties in Far Northeastern Nebraska near the Missouri River and the South Dakota border.

This area is near Louis and Clark Lake and the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation. In this area, there have been many sightings along the Verdigre and Niobrara Rivers. For instance, in Summer 1998, a number of people spotted a wolverine near Verdigre, Nebraska. One was seen chasing a deer out of a draw in the middle of a hay meadow.

Photo of the area of NE Nebraska around the Niobrara, Verdigre and Elkhorn Rivers where there have been numerous wolverine sightings. That is probably the Verdigre River in the foreground.

Photo of the area of NE Nebraska around the Niobrara, Verdigre and Elkhorn Rivers where there have been numerous wolverine sightings. That is probably the Verdigre River in the foreground.

In April 2012, a fire and range ecologist spotted a wolverine running away after a cedar burn operation in a steep area near Scotia on the North Loup River. This is about in the dead center of Nebraska.

On October 29, 2014, a wet wolverine that seemed to have been swimming somewhere was seen in a pasture in Central Nebraska near Doniphan between Hastings and Grand Island. This is quite close to the Platte River where it may have been swimming. The area is between Lincoln and Platte, Nebraska.

There has also been one sighting north of Gordon in northwestern Nebraska on the headwaters of Wounded Knee Creek near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This area is east of the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, now the scene of a famous fight over selling booze to Pine Ridge Indians.

A view of the terrain around Whiteclay, Nebraska. A wolverine was sighted on the South Dakota border about 17 miles east of here.

A view of the terrain around Whiteclay, Nebraska. A wolverine was sighted on the South Dakota border about 17 miles east of here.

Incredibly enough, there have even been wolverine sightings in Missouri. On October 28, 2011, a man spotted a wolverine emerging from a cornfield and crossing State Highway E just south of Highway 13. This is hilly farm country. This area is in Western Nebraska not far from the Missouri River and is close to the place where the borders of Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri all meet. There are a number of good sightings in both Nebraska and Iowa, so it is possible, though bizarre, that wolverines may exist in Western Missouri.

The first Grey Wolf in 94 years was seen recently in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was a lone male. The UP, Minnesota and Wisconsin all have healthy populations. The Black Bear and wolf populations in Minnesota have shown dramatic increases in recent years, and there is now a healthy population of over 25 lynx in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the first time in 30 years.

In other great news along similar lines, an Eastern Grey Wolf, the first in 160 years, was detected in Massachusetts. It killed over a dozen lambs before the farmer shot it to death. The killing was probably justified, but it is unfortunate that the first wolf in the state in over 150 years got shot to death. There will probably be more wolves coming to the state after this one, though.

Click the wolverines label at the end of the post to see other posts on wolverines in the US, including many sighting reports and photos.

References

Aubry, K. B., McKelvey, K. S., and Copeland, J. P. 2007. Distribution and Broadscale Habitat Relations of the Wolverine in the Contiguous United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(7): 148-158.

Bangs, Ray. 2009. Personal communication.

Haugen, A. O. 1961. Wolverine in Iowa. Journal of Mammalogy 42: 546-547.

Zimmermann, W. J., Biester, H. E., Schwarte, L. H., and Hubbard, E. D. 1962. Trichinella spiralis in Iowa Wildlife during the Years 1953 to 1961. The Journal of Parasitology, 48:3:1, pp. 429-432.

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Filed under Animals, Canada, Canids, Carnivores, Iowa, Mammals, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Mustelids, North America, North Dakota, Regional, South Dakota, USA, West, Wild, Wildlife, Wisconsin, Wolverines, Wolves, Wyoming

Wolverine Killed in North Dakota!

Be sure to check out my extensive series on wolverines in the US. It is split into different areas, and it includes sightings and other evidence for the region along with photos of the area. The sightings are listed according to date and location. Many of the photos are of areas where sightings occurred. Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho (here and here), Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. There are also five posts on the subject of wolverines in California.

The first wolverine recorded in North Dakota in nearly 150 years was killed in North Dakota this week in stunning news that comes on the heels of other reports in recent decades of rare wild animals being seen where they have not been seen in decades or scores of years or in one case, centuries. In the case of North Dakota, this is the first verified wolverine recorded in the state ever and the first record of a wolverine since 1870, 146 years ago. This should be national news possibly along the lines of the recent stories about the first wolverine in Michigan in ~200 years or the first wolverine in California in nearly 90 years.

A wolverine was shot and killed in Western North Dakota on Sunday, April 24, 2016. The wolverine was killed on the Wisness Ranch south of  Alexander, North Dakota. Alexander, a town of only 223 people, is located in far western North Dakota on the border with Montana. The animal was killed by ranch hand and Alexander resident Jared Hatter when it was harassing calves in the calving pasture. Hatter went out to check on the cows when he saw that cows had surrounded an animal in the calving pasture. A wolverine is absolutely capable of killing a calf, and the full-grown ones can actually take down a adult cow. Hatter reported it on his Facebook page and included photos of the animal.

Ranch workers contacted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. A biologist from the department examined the animal and determined that it was indeed a wolverine. The department kept the wolverine and took it back to Game and Fish Headquarters, where it remains. This Facebook post is the initial post made by Hatter on his Facebook page.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department verified the wolverine story. Dale Repnow, spokesman for the Wildlife Division of North Dakota Game and Fish (NDGF) confirmed that the story is true. “Yes, that story is correct. I can confirm that. And I believe we have the animal in our possession now. This is all very exciting news for us,” said Repnow. In addition to Repnow, the story was also confirmed Stephanie Tucker, wildlife biologist for the Furbearer Division of NDGF and Rebecca Barrett, head of The Wolverine Foundation.

This report was the first major report of the incident and the photos associated with it published in the mainstream online media. I was ahead of the mainstream media by four days, as I ran this on April 28, and the media did not pick it up until four days later on April 2.

There have been a number of unverified sightings of wolverines in North Dakota in the past two decades. They are listed in my report, Wolverines in the Upper Midwest, available here. This is the most detailed report on wolverines in this region on the Internet. Be sure to check it out if you are interested in the subject. It has lots of great photos of the areas in which wolverines were spotted and the general terrain of the region.

It also links a number of other reports I wrote on other parts of the US. I broke the Western and Central US into several zones of one or more states and then discussed the status and recent sightings of wolverines in that area. I also included a lot of photos of the locales where the sightings took place.

The last wolverine recorded in the state was from 1870 when a wolverine was poisoned by a hunter named Henry Bennett at the mouth of Cherry Creek near the Killdeer Mountains. Curiously, that location very close to where the current specimen was taken. There were 36 known records of wolverines taken in North Dakota, but none of them were verified. 35 of these are from a single locale, a fort at the mouth of the Pembina River in the northeastern part of the state. These records are all from the journal of a single fur trapper from Montreal, Alexander Henry the Younger.

Henry’s journals date from 1801-1806 when he worked as a fur trapper for the Montreal-based North West Company. During this period, Northeastern North Dakota had not yet been settled by Whites, so his records would seem to be a good record of the wildlife presence and density in this region pre-contact. At this time, the land was the territory of Dakotas, but Chippewas and Crees were also in the area.

He lived for most of the time at a fort at the mouth of the Pembina River. In those five years, Henry reported that 35 wolverines were trapped in eastern North Dakota alone.

The USFWS regards these records as possibly spurious since they nearly all came from a single person, and it is uncertain whether these records were of wolverines actually taken in North Dakota or whether these were animals taken elsewhere and transported to the fort. However, a closer look at Henry’s journal shows that he was reporting exact locales where his trappers were taking wolverines. He listed a variety of locales, all in eastern North Dakota. The theory that some or all of these wolverines were trapped outside of North Dakota and brought to the fort seems incorrect.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) says according to the known habitat associations of the wolverine in the US, North Dakota never housed a population of established wolverines during historical times.

However, this conclusion may be erroneous, and wolverine biologists think it is incorrect.

The USFWS also says that the entire area of the US Northeast, Great Lakes and Great Plains never had an established population of wolverines. However, biologists reported that two juvenile wolverines were taken in the Diamond Lakes area of New Hampshire in a single year, 1918. The biologists felt that the taking of two young in a single year meant that a breeding population of wolverines may have been present at that time. The current theory that the Northeast never had an established population of wolverines is probably incorrect.

Dr. Keith Aubry, one of the nation’s top wolverine scientists, said that if those 35 specimens were all taken from eastern North Dakota in a five year period alone, then that implies that there was a resident population of wolverines in Eastern North Dakota at that time.

The question here centers around the question of what one means by established population. To wildlife biologists, established population means breeding population, and the USFWS argues that the Upper Great Plains does not have suitable habitat for breeding wolverines due to the lack of deep snow cover into the late spring.

The FWS also argue that wolverines cannot live in this region because summer temperatures are too high.

However, a wolverine recently lived for 5-10 years around the area of Ubly, Michigan where summer temperatures rise to 82 degrees, close to the 85 degrees found in Alexander. But the Ubly story is complicated by other factors. That animal had been live-trapped by someone in Alaska, brought to Michigan somehow and released near Ubly. A man who had set up the camera-traps that were photographing the animal was also feeding it regularly, so this is not pure case of a naturally dispersing wild animal surviving on its own, and this animal may not have been able to survive there on its own.

Based on this data, the Summer Temperature Theory about wolverines may be wrong. Aubry acknowledged that wolverines can live in areas where the summer temperatures get up to 80-85 degrees, but they do not live well or thrive in these places.

Based on the number of reports coming in of wolverines not only from North Dakota but also from elsewhere in the Upper Midwest and the long historical record of sightings in this area from the 19th Century, the Great Plains was definitely wolverine habitat pre-contact and even for a period of time after contact before they were possibly extirpated by the fur trade or even more likely by a warming climate, which is the theory that Aubry favors. The reason that the prairie may not be habitat now is because of the assumption that lacks the deep snow persisting into late spring required for breeding wolverines.

Although the prairie seems to be an odd place to have wolverines, when you think about the great herds of buffalo that used to roam here, perhaps it is not so strange after all. Aubry agreed that the Great Plains would have been perfect habitat for wolverines due to the huge herds of buffalo that would have provided a ready source of large amounts of carrion that would be perfect for a scavenger like a wolverine.

He also said that it was much colder in the US in 1800 than it is today because that was during the tail end of a several centuries-long Little Ice Age where temperatures dropped all over North America. Since then, the continent has been slowly warming up, a process that has much accelerated in recent days, and what may have been cold enough for wolverines in 1800 is much less suitable habitat now that it is much warmer. Aubry said it may well have been cold enough in North Dakota in 1800 to sustain the snow conditions necessary for wolverine breeding.

He also noted that Canadian scientists say there has been a retraction of the wolverine’s range in Ontario over the past century or so. Whereas once wolverines occurred throughout the province from north to south, they have retreated north and are now found only in the northern half of Ontario. Aubry felt that the retraction of the wolverine’s range from the Northeast, the Great Lakes and the Great Plains was probably more due to warming climate than to overtrapping and poisoning.

“The wolverine may have been one of the first victims of global warming,” Aubry said.

Among nearby states, wolverines were last recorded in Indiana in 1852, in Wisconsin in 1870, and in Minnesota in 1965.

Wolverines are resident in the western mountains of Montana and are also known to be present in the Great Plains part of the state in the west. About two months ago on March 8, a motorist snapped a photo of wolverine one mile north of Hingham, Montana running across a field in north-central Montana.

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Zoomed in shot of a what definitely appears to be a wolverine running in a field one more north of Havre, Montana. The photo was shot two months ago. This may well have been the same wolverine that was killed just over the North Dakota border last week now.

It seemed to be running from the Sweetgrass Hills towards the Bear Paw Mountains. Based on location, it could have come from the Sweetgrass Hills northwest of Havre on the border of Montana and Alberta. The Sweetgrass Hills are known to have a resident population of wolverines. Two of the nation’s top wolverine experts stated that this wolverine may have been the same one that was recorded in Montana earlier because when seen in Montana, it was headed towards North Dakota. There has been only one other sighting in this Hill Country area when a wolverine was spotted near Kremlin in the 1970’s. Kremlin is 23 miles west of Havre along the Milk River.

Photos of the wolverine are below.

wolverine

Side view of the wolverine killed just recently in North Dakota. Note the huge padded paws and the massive claws.

wolverine 2

Another side view with an emphasis on the head and front of the animal. Note the black and white dual colored hair color, the shape of the small ears, the elongated snout, the big fangs, and of course the huge padded paws. The pads and claws on the feet of a badger look something like this, but on the wolverine, these characteristics may be more accentuated.

wolverine1

Yet another photo of the wolverine, this time with an emphasis on the paws and the claws.

index

Jared Hatter of Alexander, North Dakota holds up the wolverine he shot near there on April 24, 2016. Hatter did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.

References

Aubry, K. B., K. S. McKelvey, and J. P. Copeland. 2007. Geographic Distribution and Broadscale Habitat Relations of the Wolverine in the Contiguous United States. Journal of Wildlife Management 71: 2147-2158.

Aubry, Keith. April 28, 2016. Research Wildlife Biologist. Ecological Process and Function Division, Research and Development Department, Pacific Northwest Research Station, United States Forest Service. Olympia, Washington. Personal communication.

Bailey, V. 1926. A Biological Survey of North Dakota. North American Fauna 49:1–226.

Copeland, J. P. and Whitman, J. S. 2003. “Wolverine,” pp. 672-682, in Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Economics. G. A. Feldhamer, B. C. Thompson, and J. A. Chapman, eds. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Henry, Alexander. 1988. The Journal of Alexander Henry the Younger 1799-1814. Toronto: The Champlain Society, University of Toronto Press.

Jackson, C. F. August 22, 1922. Notes on New Hampshire Mammals. Journal of Mammalogy 3:1, p. 13.

Whitaker, John O. and Hamilton, William John. 1998. Mammals of the Eastern United States, p. 551. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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Wolverine Photographed in Minnesota?

Possible wolverine photographed in Minnesota?

Possible wolverine photographed in Minnesota?

I recently received a missive telling me that someone had captured a possible wolverine on a trailcam in Minnesota. I had him send me the photo and he said it to me right away along with a story about how it came about:

Attached is the photo of a wolverine on my 40 acres of hunting land in Douglas County, Minnesota. This would be about 10 miles South East of Miltona, MN and 7 miles Northeast of Carlos, MN. I had three photos…Nose, tail and this one. I deleted the other two before I realized what this might be.

This creature turned my camera downward pointing at the ground after this photo. The camera was mounted about 3 1/2 feet up on a portable camera mount that is staked into the ground. It has a RAM style ball and socket mount and he was able to turn it down at the socket.

Based on your post from Tom Akenson and a friend that saw one in his back yard in 2004, there appear to have been at least three sightings in the area over the last ten years. This is farm and lake country on the south end of the North Woods. There are some large public hunting lands and river and creek valleys nearby that are somewhat desolate and could hold unseen creatures.

The animal is in the lower right corner of the photo.

He sent this to me because I had written a series of articles on wolverines in the US. There have been a number of sightings in the Upper Midwest in recent years, but only one confirmed wolverine and that one was in the thumb of Michigan. It was photographed more than once and it recently died. Its carcass was found after it died. That wolverine was the first wolverine in Michigan in almost 200 years and the first in the Upper Midwest in a very long time also.

Wolverines formerly ranged all through the Upper Midwest, but they were eliminated from there as they were eliminated from most of the Lower 48 states. Only a few now survive in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. One was recently photographed in Colorado. Another was recently photographed in California, the first wolverine known in the state since the early 1920’s. That wolverine still resides here. He runs about north of Lake Tahoe on the Tahoe National Forest. He is currently in search of a mate, but he is unlikely to have found one as he may be the only wolverine in California.

Wolverines have been sighted in recent years in Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The Oregon sightings were by wildlife biologists.

This photo is not very clear, but if it can be proven that this is a wolverine, it will be the first confirmed wolverine in Minnesota in many years.

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Badgers, Bobcats and Roadkills

Repost from the old site.

A few years ago, I was driving to a major California Central Valley city for a post-operation appointment with my surgeon, when I saw a very strange roadkill beside the busy two-lane highway. When you live in rural areas, you get so you can spot the roadkills, species-wise, after a while. Most of them are the usual, and I don’t stop to look at those. But every now and again you see something unusual.

A few weeks ago, there was a dead bobcat on the road only a mile from my home. Seeing a dead one is a strange experience. You expect such a fearsome predator to be large, but a bobcat is usually only about as big as a very large house cat. It differs from Kitty in having extremely long legs and a very short snub tail.

After living here 14 years, I have only seen two roadkilled bobcats. I have seen, or heard, three other bobcats, two of them running across the highway. Sighting a bobcat is a funny experience. When you see one running, you instantly think it is a rabbit because of the rabbit-like way that it runs. Also, they run extremely fast, so you typically only get a short glance at them.

Years ago, a woman who was staying with me for a bit put some cat food out for the “outside cats” (I had seven cats at the time – five indoor and two outdoor cats). At 9:30 at night, she came running to get me.

“Bob!” she said excitedly. “Do rabbits eat cat food?!”

“Well, um, no, I don’t think so,” I answered dumbfounded.

“Well, I opened up the door and a rabbit was eating cat food, and it ran away really fast!” She was really excited.

“Huh?” I asked. This wasn’t making sense.

With some more questioning and some research in my animal books, I determined that she had actually seen a bobcat. I asked her if it could have been a bobcat, and she said, “Maybe”. A damn bobcat had come up on the porch to eat cat food, and then run away so fast that she thought it was a rabbit. Once again, note the rabbit misinterpretation due to its running style.

A couple of years after I moved up to the mountains here, I heard a disturbing bobcat tale. The neighbor across the road had a lot of ducks penned up inside a fenced area. I have no idea what he did with them. Well, one morning, he got up at dawn to silence in the duck pen. Curious, he went out to check and found 20 ducks, all slaughtered, and one fat, contented bobcat sleeping in his duck pen!

He yelled at the bobcat, the cat woke up and was gone in an instant. This is yet another report of the curious “bloodlust” behavior of some wild animals (especially wild North American cats) when they get amidst a paradise of easy kills. This bobcat killed every single duck in sight in mad bloodlust, even though he couldn’t possibly eat all those ducks.

A few years later, I was out walking at night when I approached a lake by the side of the road about 1/4 mile from my home. The lake is fenced and there are trees all around it.

I heard a loud rustling in a young pine tree and saw the pine sway. It seemed odd, like there was something too large to be in the tree hiding in the tree. I cautiously approached the young pines, staring upwards and shining my flashlight at the tree.

Suddenly, there was a loud “ROWWLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!” and one of the pines lurched towards me. It was loud, I mean real loud, and scary as Hell. I jumped back a few feet and stared at the pine, shining my light at it. After a bit, I walked away.

Thinking it over, I decided that had to be a bobcat up in that little pine. Bobcats are truly terrifying when cornered, as the American frontier phrase “Fight like a wildcat” implies, and they are capable of a “hair-raising scream”.

What’s strange is that bobcats apparently live all around here constantly in fairly good numbers. Yet they are almost never seen, like ghosts in the woods.

Anyway, back to the roadkill heading to the doc’s office. I drove past the roadkill and thought, “Damn! That was weird.” And I also thought, “Badger”. What’s weird is I have never seen a live badger in the wild and have seen only one roadkill.

But the one roadkill all it took to imprint it on my memory. I turned around and went back to the kill and got out to look at it. Badger! And on the floor of the Central Valley yet, not far from orchards and grape vines. How odd.

There’d been a tremendous amount of rain that year (my town had received 57 inches already – a very wet year), and the grass was about 3-6 feet high in this part of the Valley where I found the badger, perfect habitat for badgers. American badgers are quite a bit different from the European badgers fairly common in England.

Badgers have supposedly become rare in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills in recent years for unknown reasons, possibly due to poisoning of ground squirrels by ranchers.

Like its European cousins, the American badger is a nocturnal digger with massive claws for digging out the ground-dwelling rodents it preys on. Badgers dig huge burrows and leave big massive marks in the ground with their claws. American badgers, like bobcats, are also rarely seen.

I grabbed the roadkilled badger and threw it in the trunk on my car! Wow, am I nuts or what? Then I drove to the California Department of Fish and Game office in the big city, walked into the office and announced I had a badger for them.

A few years back, a biologist had told me to bring in any ringtail or badger roadkills I found when I told him about roadkills of these species I found. The ringtail is another animal that reportedly lives around here in good numbers but is almost never seen.

The biologists came out, opened the truck, wrapped the badger in plastic bags, and took it into the office where they threw it in the freezer. They like to examine certain wild animals, cut them up, dissect them, see what they are eating, maybe mount them, etc. Yes, the weirdo biologists around you actually encouraged me to pick up roadkilled animals and bring them to their lab.

Can you see walking in the door in the evening and your wife asks you what you did today, and you say, “Oh, I dropped off a dead badger, then I went on the doctors.”

A truly odd note about roadkills in the rural US. Reportedly, scavenging of roadkills by rural humans is such a significant problem that state governments have made it illegal!

Especially in the South, if a deer gets roadkilled, the good ole boys tend to get right on it, grab a pickup, drive to the deer, wait for traffic to die down, and throw the deer in the back of the pickup! Then they take it home, dress it, cook it up, and eat it. It’s considered “free food”. You need to live out in the woods to understand the mindset.

A friend told me a story about an elderly woman somewhere in the rural US who lived beside a highway that saw a lot of roadkills. She scavenged them right away, and was able to supplement her diet quite well. Yum yum! You never know if stories like that are urban legends or not, though.

A little known fact about badgers is that they are fantastic dancers. I kid you not! Here is some rare footage of dancing badgers in their native habitat (slow-loading file). Enjoy!

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Wolverine Photographed in California

A second wolverine has been photographed in the Sierra Nevadas of California.

The first one was captured on a baited trailcam station in 2008 as part of a study on martens. The location was north of Lake Tahoe on the Tahoe National Forest near Hobart Mills Road. They since set up a number of hair traps and they caught hair samples of this same wolverine a number of times. It’s a male, and genetic testing showed that he came from Idaho. It’s not known how he got from Idaho to the Sierras. He’s been apparently looking for a mate in the area, but he hasn’t been able to find one.

This one was photographed in May at Lake Spaulding, ~25 miles away from Hobart Mills Road to the west. It’s not known whether this wolverine that was photographed is the same one as was snapped at Hobart Mills Road. A hiker went into the backcountry for a three hike all alone and saw the wolverine booking it across Lake Spaulding’s frozen surface. He snapped a photo of it as it was running past. Biologists on the forest are very excited about this sighting.

I have a huge article about California wolverines here.

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Website Links to My Wolverine Articles

Captain Capitalism*, who has linked to us before, links approvingly to our wolverine articles. The truth is that the wolverine series is probably the best and most up to date series of articles on wolverine sightings, modern and historical, in the US.

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

If you are in or near any of those states, you might want to look up those articles. They have the latest up to date sightings for each state and region listed along with a lot of great photos of the areas near where the sightings occurred.

In addition to the states listed above, wolverines occur in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and even Iowa. They have not been seen in Nevada since the 1890’s. They are also extirpated from Arizona. Wolverines seem to be recolonizing a lot of their historical habitat, though they have not yet come back to the Rust Belt and the Upper Northeast.

The pieces do need to be spiced up with even more recent sightings that I get on a regular basis. Lately, I got a few sightings from New Mexico, which is very odd.

Some of you Bigfooters might be interested in wolverines.

*Not that we agree with CC on economics or politics in general of course.

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Wolverines In Washington

Note: Repost from the old blog.

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

First of all, wolverines have been proven to exist in Washington in the past six years. On May 29, 2009, a wolverine was photographed on the north side of Mount Adams on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Another wolverine was photographed on the Yakima Indian Reservation the year before.

The report on the Methow District of the Okanagan Forest below shows that two wolverines were trapped on the forest in 2005. This is excellent news and is the only report of wolverines being live-trapped anywhere on Earth, or possibly ever.

In addition, wolverines have been photographed on the Wenatchee National Forest and on the Yakima Indian Reservation in 2006. In 2005, fur was collected south of Danville on the Okanagan.

Compared to and Oregon, wolverines in Washington seem to be doing a lot better.

Although most reports indicate that wolverines are dire shape in Washington, the truth is that they are probably not in in immediate danger of going extinct, at least up in the far north of the Okanagan, where the wolverines are probably drifting down from British Colombia.

The report on wolverines in the Methow Ranger District in the Okanagan National Forest in far northern Washington near the British Colombian border is here. That location is in the Northern Cascades.

In addition, there have been sightings of wolverines outside of the Hart’s Pass area of the Okanagan. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that wolverines are thought to exist on the Colville, Gifford, Pinchot, Kanisku, Okanagan, and Wenatchee National Forests based on 33 reports of sighting and tracks from 1985-2000.

In 2005, wolverine fur was collected just south of Danville in the Kettle Range in northeastern Washington. This area is just south of British Colombia.

Photo of a wolverine shot on the northwest side of Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington in May 2009.

In 2006, a camera station detected a wolverine in the Napeequa River Valley in the Glacier Peak Wilderness to the south of Hart’s Pass on the Wenatchee National Forest.

The Napeequa River Valley in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The valley has been compared to Shangri-La. The trail to the valley is now damaged and overgrown in spots, but you can still get there. The valley floor is about 4,200 feet. A wolverine was detected at a camera station here in 2006.

 

In the same year, another camera detected a wolverine on the northeast slope of Mt. Adams on the Yakima Indian Reservation. This is also in the Cascades, but is in southern Washington.

The northeast slope of Mount Adams in the middle of winter. A wolverine was detected here with a camera in 2006. There are many avalanches here. Within the area shown by this photo, there were several avalanche and mountain climber rescues in recent years.

One theory is that wolverines evolved in glaciated regions and then adapted to the receding glaciers. As the glaciers receded, they left behind huge rock fields called glacial moraine. In the steeper areas, there were probably many rock slides as the glaciers receded. These rock slides probably killed many animals, including large animals.

The theory is that the wolverine, with its frost-resistant fur and frenetic lifestyle capable of traversing the most formidable territory, evolved to scavenge the dead animals killed as the glaciers receded. They are now found in the areas that most closely resemble the glaciated environment in which they evolved.

 

There were also sightings on the Olympic Peninsula and on the Mount Baker National Forest east of Bellingham in the 1990’s.

A wolverine was sighted near Twin Lakes on the Colville Indian Reservation in 2005. This is at the southern end of the Kettle River Range.

Click the wolverines label at the end of the post to see other posts on wolverines in the US, including many sighting reports and photos.

References

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).

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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.

References

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).

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Wolverine Sighted in Shasta County, California

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

There was an unconfirmed sighting of a wolverine in Shasta County, California a year ago, on Friday, September 26, 2008. The sighting occurred at 1 PM on a sunny day. The wolverine was crossing Highway 89 from north to south. It was walking fast more than running.

It was described as paler than most photos the observer had seen – more of a dark tan. This color is actually common for wolverines, and if this was an actual California wolverine, this subspecies was known to have a much lighter coloration. He observed it crossing the road at about 50 feet away until it vanished into the forest.

The observer assumed it was a pretty common animal until he went on the Net and did some research and found out how rare it was. He reported the sighting to this blog, and I believe him. Anyone who wants to talk to the observer about this sighting can try to contact him via me at my email

This area of California has actually had a number of wolverine sightings in recent years, including some by wildlife biologists. In addition, loggers, utility workers and Forest Service workers have been reporting sightings in the Lassen/Almanor area for years now. Bizarrely, even sightings by wildlife biologists are said to be “unconfirmed”.

The sighting was around Dead Horse Summit, about 20-30 miles west of McCloud, between the small towns of Bartle and Pondosa. This area is near MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park. That’s a really beautiful area. This part of California is very White, deeply conservative and very sparsely settled. I have been near this part of California, but it was so long ago, I don’t even remember it.

Dead Horse Summit. This is where the far southern end of the Cascades Range of Washington, Oregon and northern California meets the far northern end of the Sierra Nevada. This is an area where the California spotted owl probably intergrades with the Northern spotted owl. Wolverines are already known to exist at decent populations in southern Oregon. These are definitely California wolverines. If the California wolverine subspecies is to repopulate California and the Sierra Nevada, it will be through this corridor linking the two ranges.There is a fascinating old railroad track that runs through this area. You can take these little several man-railroad cars that cruise along the tracks and check out this train track. It’s really popular with model railroad fans for some weird reason. I’m not even sure if this track is even used by real trains anymore. As far as I can tell, it’s a tourist trap for model railroad dudes. Funny.

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