California Wolverine Coverage

The recent sighting of a wolverine by a hiker in California is generating a tremendous amount of interest – visits to this blog were at an all-time high today, and the media is covering the event thoroughly. Here’s a quick collection of recent articles, for people who are interested:

A second segment on the news features a follow-up interview with a California biologist who is hoping to find more gulos in the California backcountry. It’s difficult not to smirk, just a bit, at the comparison of reclusive wolverines to reclusive Hollywood stars – it’s such a stereotypically Californian analogy. But I secretly kind of like it.

The LATimes ran a short opinion piece celebrating the sighting, and the Modesto Bee featured a short article. Further abroad in the press, the sighting made news amongst gamers (perhaps because of X-Men links) and among Christians (hopefully reflecting a sense of responsibility towards god’s creatures.) Possibly linked to the Christian post (although one hopes not, given history….) the website Inquisitr also ran a story. These are all pretty basic, but the press flurry is intriguing, suggesting a gratifying degree of wildlife interest among Californians. I do wonder about the repeated claims that a lone wandering grey wolf makes Canis lupus “the rarest species in California,” (if there’s a single male of each species, aren’t they equivalently rare?) but….oh well.

For more on California’s wolverines, the California Department of Fish and Game has a page with images taken in 2008 by a camera trap set up for a marten study; this is probably the same wolverine – nicknamed “Buddy” – recently seen by the hiker. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife has a sparse page on the original Californian subspecies of wolverine, Gulo gulo luteus, now believed extinct.  Tom Knudsen has a compilation of information about Buddy, although this was posted back in 2009.

Gulo gulo luteus has also garnered some scientific interest from the Rocky Mountain Research Station, featuring in an article on global wolverine genetics; analysis suggests that wolverines in California show more genetic similarities to wolverines in Mongolia than to wolverines in the Rocky Mountains of the US, although this could be due to convergent evolution rather than descent. Another article out of RMRS details the genetic findings on Buddy, showing that he is not a descendent of the historic Sierra population, and articulates that the wolverine represents the first evidence of gulo connectivity between the Sierras and the Rockies.

We’ll have some more news shortly on wolverines in Wyoming and in Mongolia, so check back tomorrow!

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2 thoughts on “California Wolverine Coverage

    • Hi Ariane,

      Thanks so much for following the blog and for your interest in wolverines. I enjoyed reading your post! The California gulo seems to be pretty sociable, but chances of going out and seeing him if you’re deliberately looking are slim. The best places are Glacier National Park and Grand Teton National Park – both of those areas are fully occupied, with accessible trails into wolverine habitat. A series of ski trips in certain parts of the Tetons almost guarantees a sighting of a track, at the very least. There are also a couple of outfits near Bozeman, Montana, that run citizen science trainings for tracking and DNA collection, and those guys are pretty good at getting their trainees on tracks (I don’t know what their record is in actually spotting gulos in the wild, though.) I know a guy in England who has been all over Europe and Alaska with the objective of seeing wolverines in the wild, and he’s been quite successful, so he would probably know people who would know how to find one. Just some things to think about if you’re serious about seeing a wolverine in the wild.

      Let me know if there’s anything I can do to further assist in the mission!

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