Category Archives: North Dakota

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Carnivores, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Government, Iowa, Mammals, Midwest, Minnesota, Mustelids, North America, North Dakota, Northeast, Regional, South Dakota, USA, Wild, Wisconsin, Wolverines

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.

If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a contribution to support the continuation of the site.

3 Comments

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.

JYoeXUM

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.

21 Comments

Filed under Animals, Canada, Carnivores, History, Mammals, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Mustelids, North America, North Dakota, Northeast, Quebec, Regional, USA, Wild, Wildlife, Wisconsin, Wolverines

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Animals, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Mammals, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Mustelids, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Regional, South Dakota, USA, Utah, Washington, West, Wild, Wisconsin, Wolverines, Wyoming

“Oil Patch Blues,” by Alpha Unit

The Williston Basin lies beneath parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan. A rock unit called the Bakken formation occupies about 200,000 square miles of it. Originally described in 1953, it’s named after Henry Bakken, a farmer in Williston, North Dakota. He owned the land where the first drilling rig revealed the rock layers in 1951. As you may have heard, there are significant oil reserves in the Bakken.

The US Geological Survey has estimated that there are about 3.65 billion barrels of oil in the Bakken. More recent estimates suggest there could be up to 18 billion barrels.

The oil is wrapped in layers of shale, which initially frustrated extraction attempts. But petroleum engineers devised a fracturing method that overcame this problem. What they do is drill down and then horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand, and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow the oil to flow up. It was first used in 2007, quite successfully.

The result has been a population boom as people from neighboring areas, other parts of the country, and even overseas have rushed into North Dakota and Montana in pursuit of oil field jobs. John McChesney paints a picture of how life has changed for some residents of North Dakota.

Imagine you live in a small rural town worried for years about depopulation, and suddenly, overnight, the population doubles, and the newcomers are thousands of young men without families. Imagine that you live in a tiny town with one main street that doubles as a state highway.

That’s the situation in New Town, N.D., population 1,500 – at least, it was a couple of years ago. Today it’s anybody’s guess how many people live here, and no one knows how many 18-wheelers roll through every day, either. They just know it never stops.

McChesney says that for the people of New Town, it seems that every big tank truck in America is on the road here, making tens of thousands of trips a day hauling water, fracking fluid, wastewater and crude oil – and tearing up the roads.

It’s been described by one county official as the complete industrialization of western North Dakota. And it’s placing an incredible strain on the community there. Dan Kalil, chairman of the Williams County Commission, told McChesney:

They’re consuming all our resources. They’re consuming all our people looking for jobs. All the employee base is used up. Our roads system is being used up. All our water is being used up. All our sewage systems are being used up. They’re overwhelmed. All of our leadership time as local public officials is consumed with this.

And for the newcomers, life in the Bakken isn’t exactly what they had in mind, either. They often arrive with no money and nowhere to live. There’s not enough housing for them. Homeless shelters and churches are taking in some of the job-seekers but the need is overwhelming.

Some of the men are sleeping in their cars. Some have sleeping bags they roll out in the woods or in abandoned buildings. There are camps where people park RV’s they’re living in. But the water pipes and waste tanks on standard RV’s can’t handle the freezing temperatures. Super-insulated campers and trailers are just as hard to find as actual housing.

And let’s not forget: this is North Dakota, after all. One taste of winter in the Bakken sends some job-seekers back to where they came from.

In the meantime, housing prices are higher than they’ve ever been. Some of the local residents can’t afford to pay rent anymore. And crime used to be nearly nonexistent. Now crime rates have spiked across western North Dakota and eastern Montana, with an increase in vagrancy, “drunken and disorderly” charges, burglary, assault, property crimes, and prostitution.

“Men need servicing just as much as their machines,” one oil patch worker told Adam Luebke.

There have even been a couple of violent crimes that have made headlines in the area. A hitchhiker was wounded in a drive-by shooting while on US Highway 2, a major route in and out of the oil patch. A teacher from the oil patch town of Sidney, Montana, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by two Colorado men on their way to the Bakken.

The oil industry is aware of what locals are going through and is making some PR efforts to keep people on their side, but their efforts aren’t as successful as they’d like. As John McChesney explained:

Back in New Town at a gathering of a few local residents, we met rancher Donnie Nelson, who had just paid $7 for a gallon of milk, one example of a price inflation here. He says patience here is wearing thin.

“Just about anybody I talk to that’s a neighbor – and some of them are getting wealthy – are sick of it. It’s never going to be the same in this country, and they’re starting to realize that we had it kind of good, even though we weren’t No. 1 in oil and we weren’t the No. 1 state economically,” Nelson says. “We had a good life up here.”

4 Comments

Filed under Alpha Unit, Americas, Crime, Government, Guest Posts, Local, Midwest, North America, North Dakota, Regional, Social Problems, USA

Wolverines in the Upper Midwest

Repost from the old site.

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.

If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a contribution to support the continuation of the site.

83 Comments

Filed under Animals, Canids, Carnivores, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Iowa, Mammals, Massachusetts, Michigan, Midwest, Minnesota, Mustelids, North Dakota, Northeast, Regional, South Dakota, USA, Wild, Wildlife, Wisconsin, Wolverines, Wolves