California IDs First Wolverine in 80+ Years

By | March 11, 2008


Wolverines are big, secretive weasels with bad attitudes, but that doesn’t stop some people from getting awfully excited about them.

In California, wildlife enthusiasts are buzzing because a Oregon State University graduate student’s remote-sensing camera appears to have photographed a wolverine, making it California’s first substantiated wolverine sighting since the 1920s. Katie Moriarty was trying to get a shot of the American marten, but her research project probably is getting more attention now, thanks to the accidental grainy shot.

Here’s how the U.S. Forest Service describes the wolverine, and the photograph:

The North American wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family.* Adult males weigh 26 to 40 pounds, while females are 17 to 26 pounds. It resembles a small bear, with a bushy tail and broad head. Its diet includes carrion, small animals, birds, insects and berries.

U.S. populations are found largely in the Northern Cascades in Washington, and Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho. The nearest known resident population is about 900 miles north of the Tahoe National Forest in Northern Washington.

Attempts have been made for decades to photograph wolverines in California, according to Bill Zielinski, a Forest Service scientist with the Pacific Southwest Research Station and an expert at detecting wolverines, marten and fisher. He said periodic sightings have occurred, but never scientifically confirmed using detection methods that produce verifiable evidence. – dailygreen

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