Wolverine Presentation in Washington

For those interested in learning more about wolverines in the north Cascades, Dr. Keith Aubry will give a talk about his work on November 5th at 7 pm, at the Adopt A Stream Foundation’s North Stream Center in Snohomish County’s McCollum Park, 600-128th Street SE, Everett WA 98208.  Dr. Aubry conducted the first study of wolverines in the Cascades, and this is a great opportunity to hear about this work. More details are available here.

Other exciting wolverine-related news is in the works, so check back over the next few weeks.

Two Years Later, Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Two years ago, five of us emerged from the Sayan Mountains of northern Mongolia after 23 days of skiing around the Darhad Valley. In his pack, Jason Wilmot carried 33 samples – scat, urine, hair – that we had picked up in the backcountry. Our journals and GPS units recorded 28 sets of wolverine tracks. We were gaunt, ragged, frostbitten, filthy…and ecstatic.

Or I was, anyway. As the director and lead scientist of the Mongolian Wolverine project, and the first person to undertake a systematic survey of wolverines in that country, I’d shared many an anxious conversation with Jason about whether long-range ski surveys, even in areas known to harbor wolverine populations, would prove a valid technique for yielding data. We weren’t sure that the expedition would provide worthwhile information. We speculated that we’d be lucky to find a single set of wolverine tracks and a single DNA sample. When we found our first track 45 minutes after setting out on the first day of the expedition, we laughed and said we could just turn around and go home. Mission accomplished, our single track and sole DNA sample retrieved. I was giddy, that first day.

By day three, as I crawled into a hole where the wolverine that had left track #5 had stashed a chunk of elk and the wing of a capercallie, the giddiness had settled into a persistent hum of excitement. Deep down, I’d hoped, and probably known, that the reports of wolverines that I’d collected from the Darhad over the past four years, and the pelts that I’d seen, meant that the species was in the mountains in force. But when you study the animal in North America, it feels almost miraculous to find a single set of tracks. I’d found tracks in Mongolia before, in summer snowfields, and even pulled samples from those tracks. Still, neither Jason – the co-PI on the project since its inception in 2009 and a fellow veteran of the initial 2010 Darhad wolverine research (horseback, not ski) expedition – nor I were prepared for the abundance of tracks and samples.

Jason, Jim, and Forrest taking a break at a wolverine track site, 2013.

Jason, Jim, and Forrest taking a break at a wolverine track site, 2013

Jason, and wolverine biologist Jeff Copeland, originally conceived of doing wolverine work in Mongolia before I knew either of them. Jeff had taken an initial exploratory trip to the country in 2004, but, busy with work in the US, had done nothing further. When I met Jason in 2006, I was a grad student looking at wolves in the Yellowstone ecosystem, but he and his wife discussed their wolverine work in Glacier and Yellowstone with me, and Jason expressed interest in doing work on the species in Mongolia, and I was immediately intrigued. I had been a Peace Corps environmental volunteer in Mongolia, spoke the language, and wanted to go back to study wildlife. A little bit of inquiry suggested that no one had ever done systematic work on Mongolian wolverines. Neither Jason nor Jeff had the time to dedicate to leading a project, but I did. What seemed at first like a pipe dream – go research the world’s most difficult-to-study species in a country with almost no infrastructure – gradually took shape as Jason, Jeff, and other wolverine biologists mentored me, supported my grant-writing, and shared my growing excitement as the pieces came together.

The major challenges were logistics and funding. It’s one thing to conceptualize a wildlife research project in the US, where helicopters, GPS collars, snowmobiles, and airplanes are available to those with the bank accounts to pay for them. It’s another thing entirely to conceptualize a project in a place like Mongolia, where technology that we’re accustomed to here in the States is absent even if you’ve got the funds.

Mongolia, however, has something that dominant American culture lacks – a human population that has been living with and observing their wildlife over thousands of years. A large part of that population continues to herd livestock through wolverine habitat to this day. My initial efforts focused on simply talking to people, using a blind interview technique that allowed them to identify wildlife species in the area without knowing which one I was looking for. I also took small clips from pelts of animals that had already been killed – emphasizing that under no circumstances was I asking people to kill wolverines for me – in order to begin to build a DNA database, to add to the five samples that Jeff Copeland had obtained from fur hats in 2004. Interviewing proved to be an effective method, and the extraordinary conversations about nature and wildlife that followed were both informative and inspiring. By 2010, we had quadrupled the samples from Mongolian wolverines. We had gone from an insane idea to a place where we were gaining increments of understanding.

Gulo tracks in the Altai, 2010

Gulo tracks in the Altai, 2010

I didn’t, however, want to be one of those obnoxious Americans who shows up in a place, does some research, and claims a bunch of “discoveries” for herself, so from the outset I viewed the work as collaborative and reciprocal. I kept in trust the particulars of cultural stories and practices that belong to Mongolians, shared the basic scientific data on distribution, and saw the project as a long-term investment in building research and conservation capacity with interested communities. By 2010, when Jason first traveled to Mongolia with me, I’d delineated the Darhad and the surrounding mountains as the most likely region for doing a longer-term project. For one thing, it was the largest region of modeled wolverine habitat in the country, and the interview data and the pelts that I saw confirmed that they were there and that people saw them pretty frequently. For another, there was one protected area already in existence in the mountains, and another two were being proposed, which meant that we would have the structure of a dedicated conservation entity to work with. My particular objective – find out what wolverines are up to – could be combined with building conservation capacity amongst rangers and protected area staff. This made it the ideal location for a sustainable project. And finally, this region had robust existing ties with the Yellowstone ecosystem through programs such as BioRegions International, affiliated with Montana State University, and several tourist companies and conservation outfits. So the potential positive outcomes were manifold.

The big challenge, however, was moving from the efficient, low-cost, first-cut interview and basic survey techniques, to a more scientifically rigorous assessment of the Darhad population. Jason and I had discussed and tentatively planned ski surveys for DNA samples as an intermediate step between interviewing, and camera and collar work that would allow us to obtain demographic data and test hypotheses. I’d taken a year off to work for the Clinton Foundation in Cambodia after our 2010 expedition, so we’d just started to discuss these things again in 2011 when Forrest McCarthy, a renowned mountaineer, wolverine researcher, and friend from my time in Jackson, got in touch to ask if I wanted to collaborate on a proposal to National Geographic. He wanted to do ski surveys for wolverine in the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia, where I’d previously interviewed people and found some tracks. Forrest had a friend who had been working on the Chinese side of the Altai and who had picked up a number of wolverine tracks there. Forrest imagined an expedition on the Mongolian side of the range, and floated the idea to an acquaintance, chance met at an outdoor gear expo, who had some connections at National Geographic. The two of them decided to try to organize an expedition. This dovetailed perfectly with the ski surveys that Jason and I had been discussing.

In the conversations that followed, I suggested that for the sake of long-term scientific and conservation impact, we shift the proposal to the Darhad, since I intended to continue to work in the region, and the ski expedition could help us refine baseline data in preparation for more serious research. We already knew that there were wolverines in both the Darhad and the Altai, so simply detecting tracks and picking up DNA wasn’t very useful unless those efforts were placed into the framework of more comprehensive work. Hence the Darhad was a better target than the Altai for a one-off ski survey, since a National Geographic sponsored trip would be one among many mutually-reinforcing research activities.

Forrest, at some cost to his personal interest in the Altai, agreed to the change. Jason and I wrote the grant based on our previous work, tweaking pre-existing proposals, and Forrest and his acquaintance, Gregg Treinish, added expedition details. Forrest was instrumental in assessing the maps and terrain to develop a route navigable on skis and still useful to wolverine research, since he’d run ski-based wolverine surveys before. Gregg proved adept at getting gear donations, and the staff of his organization – through which we submitted the grant – worked hard to make sure the logistics were in place. We were later joined by Jim Harris, a talented photographer with a background in wildlife biology. Thus the first Mongolian wolverine ski expedition was born, in conjunction with the scientific objectives of my long-term project.

So what is the state of Mongolian wolverine work, and the broader efforts to build conservation capacity, two years after we stumbled out of the snowbound mountains?

For various reasons, the road to hard scientific results from the DNA samples has proven as circuitous as the expedition itself. There have been a number of issues around this, which don’t bear examination here, but rest assured that the samples will eventually yield published results. There should also be a methods paper, examining long-range ski surveys as a technique for collecting data of a certain scope and quality. First, though, we need to assess whether what happened in 2013 was normal, or whether it was a fluke. To do that, we need replicate ski surveys to show that this is an effective way to obtain data and – perhaps – monitor over the long term. Those replicates are in the works.

In the meantime, however, I was able to spend last summer developing the other, probably even more important, piece of the project, which involves collaboration with the Mongolian protected areas administration and entities in the US that can help insure a long-term program for research and conservation in Mongolia. With the collaboration of BioRegions International, we built a summer workshop program for 40 staff, rangers, and local environmental officers in the Darhad. Two US National Park Service scientists from the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, and conservation biologist Lance Craighead of the Craighead Institute, served as presenters in an exchange that is the first step in what will become, over the next several years, a comprehensive inventory and monitoring program. I remained in the town of Ulaan Uul and the mountains around the Darhad for an additional eight weeks, training staff in GIS, and working with the rangers to set up a camera survey for snow leopards.

With all the rangers who have seen a wolverine, during workshop with park staff, 2014

With all the rangers who have seen a wolverine, during workshop with park staff, 2014

This summer, we will be returning to Mongolia for another round of workshops, with a focus on community-park interface, small business opportunities with a triple-bottom-line (human, environmental and financial well-being) orientation, and continuation of the programs started last year. We will be joined by staff from the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and a conservation biology student from MSU. We’re working on developing an internship program that will allow Mongolian park staff and community members to travel to the US for more intensive training and exchange – perhaps even with a wolverine field research component.

Finally, I’m developing a field research program that will implement an intensive two-year wildlife survey in one of the three protected areas. The wildlife survey will be multi-species, since it makes no sense to nearly kill oneself in the backcountry for the sake of a single species – but of course, wolverines remain the animal of greatest interest to me, and closest to my heart.

So for all the work, all the excitement, all the hardship and frostbite and sweat and hunger and cold, the 2013 ski expedition gleaned a very small piece of a very large puzzle.

But wait. Did you catch that sentence where I mentioned replicate ski surveys?

Yes, those are part of the multi-species survey plan. A friend attempted to retrace our route this year – he ended up truncating it, but collected additional samples and track data, and is up for trying again next year. Despite the rigors of the endeavor, I’ve had numerous other volunteer offers. And the most important objective is to train the rangers on these techniques – whether they’re on skis, reindeer, or horseback, it’s their mountain range and their wildlife, and the fate of the Darhad and its wolverines lies with them. So as we develop a systematic monitoring protocol, we’ll be training – and learning from – them.

Two years out, that’s where we are – contemplating going back in for Mongolian wolverine ski expedition #2, and kind of relishing the thought. But this time, it will be one part of a survey that will look at wildlife populations in a much more comprehensive way. That bigger puzzle will be decoded, piece by piece.

Oh, and the collar and camera work – that’s out there too. There will be more to follow on this topic. We’ll be getting to know individual Darhad wolverines pretty well, I promise.

For making the expedition happen, I remain grateful to National Geographic and the expedition participants. Two years later, I also have to take a moment to reflect on how far the work has come. Since the expedition, certain players have shown the vision and cooperative spirit that make conservation projects like this effective. To the Wolverine Foundation for their financial, moral, and intellectual support, I’m indebted. To BioRegions and its directors, I owe great thanks for their openness to collaborating to develop a wildlife conservation focus with the parks in northern Mongolia. Sustainability is key to any ethical wildlife research project these days – there are no conservation outcomes without commitment – and BioRegions is key to achieving this. To Tumursukh, the  director of the Ulaan Taiga Protected Areas Administration, and his outstanding staff and rangers, for their hospitality, eagerness to teach and to learn, and enthusiasm for conservation – mash ikh bayarlalaa. You’re an inspiration (and I’m psyched to see that huge photo of wolverine kits on the wall of the park visitor center.) To expedition members Forrest and Jim, who have in so many ways remained supportive of my work, and who got over their initial annoyance with my very slow ski pace – sorry, guys – and went on to develop a collaborative proposal for a second, summer expedition in the service of wildlife research in the Darhad – I’d gladly have you back on any of my projects, and I hope that both of you find time in between your even more amazing adventures elsewhere to return to Mongolia. To Jason and Jeff, my wolverine guides and mentors – words in a blog post will never be adequate. I’ll see you both in the Darhad. Bring your sense of adventure. It’s only going to get better from here.










Mongolian Bone Crusher

This blog has served a number of purposes over the years. It’s been a place for me to document my work, keep track of research and news, formulate and share ideas about carnivore conservation, explore the cultural connections between people and wildlife on two continents, and collect wolverine sighting reports from people all over the country. I expected all of these outcomes, more or less, when I started the blog and the Mongolian Wolverine Project back in 2009.

What I did not expect was the community of friends and supporters that developed around what I’ve been writing. Devoted wolverine enthusiasts have taken the time to contact me, share their ideas and work, give me feedback, invite me to their field sites, meet up for face-to-face discussions, and in some cases even come to run half-marathons with me. Many of these people have been interested in wolverines for far longer than I have, and I’ve learned a lot – and gained a lot of energy – from my conversations with them.

Among these individuals, British artist Jeff Cain was one of the first and most consistent in sharing his interest in the species. Jeff belongs to that small and unique group of people who have the Wolverine Thing – that odd, inexplicable fascination with the species, a sort of sacred obsession that strikes particular people. He has traveled all over the world to photograph, draw, and paint them, and has shared a number of great wolverine stories with me. He is a wildlife filmmaker as well, again with a primary interest in wolverines, although he’s worked on a number of other species. He follows wolverine research attentively, and his paintings are sometimes dedicated to particular researchers and their work. His enthusiastic emails of encouragement, along with photos of wolverines and images of his artwork, always appear in my inbox shortly before I set out on any major expedition, usually at the moment when I’m starting to question the validity of what I’m doing, or worry that I don’t have what it takes, or am ready to have a minor meltdown over the physics of fitting 20 camera traps into a very small suitcase. Those emails have frequently provided the antidote to pre-expedition nerves, and I remain grateful for such long-distance support.

A detail from "Mongolian Bone Crusher." Copyright Jeff Cain.

A detail from “Mongolian Bone Crusher.” Copyright Jeff Cain.

Earlier this month, I went to the post office to find a large mailing tube with British stamps waiting for me. Inside was a print of a gorgeous painting, depicting a wolverine chewing on a boar skull in Khentii Aimag, northern Mongolia. The painting was titled “Mongolian Bone Crusher,” and the print was inscribed to me. Jeff had contacted me some time ago to tell me he was working on it, after I told him that I’d found what I referred to as a boar skull that had been chewed on by a wolverine (I was mistaken. It was a deer. At a quick glance, the skull in fragments, its ivory read as an incipient tusk. But I’m glad that the painting depicts a boar skull, because that marks it as Eurasian, and not North American.) I love the fantastic detail in this painting – the texture of the fur and the moss, the gleam in the wolverine’s eye, the way he’s crunching through those old bones and living up to his gluttonous reputation. You can win all kinds of recognition in the scientific world, but having a wolverine artist paint a picture in honor of your work feels like the best possible stamp of approval. A Jeff Cain painting of one’s wolverines is a sure indicator that one has entered the official annals of the wolverine world. I am truly honored, and can’t wait to frame and hang the work.

DSCN3459Jeff Cain’s Wolverine Artwork website highlights his work, including the Mongolian Bone Crusher and other paintings dedicated to particular research projects and researchers. I’m adding it to the permanent list of links on the blog, and encourage everyone who appreciates wildlife art to check it out. I love this work because it combines two of my great interests: wildlife science and art. It’s a conscious attempt to express the details of what we’ve learned about wolverine ecology in the medium of beautiful and meticulous painting.

This post hardly does justice to Jeff’s work, but it’s been too-long delayed by travel and a busy schedule over the past couple of weeks, so I want to get it out there. A huge thanks to Jeff, and to all the people who follow this blog, support this work, and have taken the time to share their interest, ideas, and creative work. You are the best!


Wolverine Presentation in Massachusetts on Thursday

A quick post – I’ll be giving a talk on wolverines in Southborough, Massachusetts, on Thursday, April 16th, at 7:30 pm. The presentation will be held at the Southborough Community House, 28 Main St, and is free and open to the public, made possible through a grant from the Southborough Community Fund and the sponsorship of the Southborough Open Land Foundation – a great group with a staff committed to local land and wildlife conservation.

This is the first time that I’ll be speaking in Massachusetts (anywhere in New England, in fact) and the first time I’ll be giving a talk far outside of wolverine range, so I’m excited to introduce the species to an audience who might be less familiar with it. I’m looking forward to a conversation about wildlife in a community where the understanding of issues such as the Endangered Species Act, public lands, and carnivore conservation is so different to the understanding of such issues out West.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and the emphasis placed on the idea of common good, intellectual pursuit, and the (occasionally stodgy) necessity of being precautionary about resources of all kinds has had a lasting effect on my sense of environmental ethics. So has the idea of something owed to the wider world, which, in the minds of my ancestors, probably revolved around the good behavior owed to a supreme deity, but which over time has evolved into a secular orientation towards service and reciprocity towards whatever entities, environmental or societal, have been good to you. (Jonathan Franzen recently wrote about his own fusion of New England Puritanism and environmental ethics in The New Yorker. His is not a cheery picture, and Grist made a worthwhile rebuttal to his general premise about climate change and conservation outcomes, but the brief point about the kinship between the New England and the environmentalist sense of responsibility resonated with me.) It will be good to speak to the home crowd. And despite our chilly Puritan roots, I expect that it will be a fun evening. So please drop by if you are in the area. Hope to see you there.











Mongolian Archaeology Presentation in Bozeman

A brief divergence from wolverines: my friend and colleague, Dr. Julia Clark, will be giving a talk next Thursday, March 5th, about her archaeological work in the Darhad Valley. The talk is at 5 pm at the Bozeman Public Library’s small conference room, and it’s free and open to the public. The event is hosted by BioRegions International, the project that I work with in Mongolia.


Julia did her dissertation on the transition between hunter-gatherer and herding lifestyles during Mongolia’s Bronze Age, between 5000 and 3000 years ago, with a focus on the Darhad region, which is also where my work is currently based. She’s the first woman to lead an international archaeological expedition in Mongolia, and she single-handedly facilitated multiple years of field camp that gave learning opportunities to Mongolian and American archaeology students alike. She’s also been a great supporter in various ways, including some fun field time, and a briefly exhilarating suggestion that she had unearthed a Bronze Age wolverine jaw bone (it turned out to be a fox, but it’s the thought that counts.) She also introduced me to a Mongolian guy who, several weeks later, on the other side of the country, in an entirely coincidental moment, happened to save me and my entire party from our vehicle, which was stuck in a raging river and rapidly filling with water. Long story, but I would probably still be stranded in Hovd if not for Julia and her archaeology connections. So I encourage you all to come out for the talk if you have the chance. Hope to see you there!

And if you are interested in volunteering with her project, you can find details on the application process here.

Wolverines in the Times, a New Children’s Book, and Ms. Wolverine on Crushes

First up, wolverines got a mention in the New York Times last Sunday, as part of an article about the increasing pressure put on outdoor and natural spaces by non-motorized recreation. The article makes a valid point about the way we tend to point fingers at industrial and corporate environmental malfeasance, without considering that our cumulative impact on the places we celebrate might be just as great simply by walking or skiing through them. Still, some degree of communion with nature is necessary to keep people interested in protecting the environment, and there’s ever-increasing evidence that being outdoors helps mental as well as physical health. So there’s a strong incentive not to place a lot of restrictions on people’s capacity to get outdoors.

The bigger problem is demographic – if you keep making more people, they’ll have an exponentially greater effect on the environment, in all ways, both through industrial destruction of resources, and by loving nature to death. No one will touch this topic in a meaningful way – we live in an absurdly pro-natal society, culturally and to a large extent legally, so I’ll take the opportunity to soap-box a bit: if you’re at all disinclined to have kids, just don’t. I hear a lot of talk in the vein of “I’d better have a baby now because if I don’t I might regret it later,” which seems like crazy reasoning to me. No kid should know that s/he was produced as an insurance against later regret, rather than out of a sincere desire to have a child. Likewise, having kids shouldn’t be a matter of meeting a cultural expectation. Do it if you sincerely want to bring another person into the world and are committed and able to provide the financial, emotional, and intellectual resources to give it a worthwhile life.

Not that I have anything against people who have kids (unless they have excessive numbers….then it starts to get annoying), but in a culture where we’re told that we will inevitably end up with them, I’m reinforcing the fact that you can indeed just opt out and go do something more to your liking, something that might make better use of your talents, if you don’t feel interested in parenthood.

If you do feel like parenthood is for you, however, here’s something that your child must have: a new illustrated children’s book about wolverines, by Suzanne Stutzman. The book is called Send Me a Box of Wolverines, and it’s about the natural history and potential recolonization or reintroduction of the species to Colorado. Although I haven’t seen a copy, the illustrations look fun, and $1 of each sale will be donated to the Wolverine Foundation.  You can order it on the author’s website. Who wouldn’t want a box of wolverines? But since that would likely wreak some havoc, this may be the next best thing.

And now Ms. Wolverine has some words about crushes.



Dear Ms. Wolverine,

I have a crush on a guy who doesn’t seem to notice me. I really like him but I’m too shy to talk to him. How do I get his attention? I want him to understand that I am cool like a wolverine.



Dear Sad,

Crushes are annoying. They consume a lot of time and energy and usually they are based on projections instead of real compatibility or actual connections. Most of the time they don’t work out, and you are better off doing something more useful with your time than moping around about it. I hope that doesn’t seem mean and insensitive, but remember – I’m a wolverine. Kindness and sensitivity are not my strong points.

But if you really want advice on coping with a crush, the first thing you have to do is figure out whether you and this guy are actually the same species.

I bring this up because after I dispersed I found myself a nice territory. It was beautiful. High peaks, lovely meadows, rushing streams, lots of prey. There were no other wolverines around, which was both a good and a bad thing. It was good because it meant I didn’t have to fight anyone for my territory. It was bad because I started developing crushes on guys who were not wolverines.

First there was the mountain goat. He had such big, beautiful eyes, and he had such defined, muscular, juicy legs. His back was also pretty attractive. I followed him around everywhere, just admiring those muscles. But things ended badly. I probably shouldn’t go into details. It turns out that my fascination with him was not terribly healthy. For him.

Never mind. Moving on.

Next there was a bear. He looked a little like a wolverine, but bigger. He was also really mean, all the time. Since wolverines have a reputation for being badass, I thought maybe I could be like him. I followed him around for a while trying to figure out how he’d become so big and impressive, even though he tried to severely injure me every time I attempted to flirt with him over a carcass. Maybe he knew I wasn’t as interested in him as I was in the carcass? Also, abusive guys are just bad news. Don’t ever pursue a crush on a guy who growls or swats at you. After a while, I thought, why bother trying to be big and intimidating when I can just go on being small and intimidating? So I chased him off a carcass one day and discovered he was sort of a wimp. Then he went into hibernation for the winter and I realized that there was no way I’d be willing (or able) to transform myself into a bear. Who wants to sleep through the best season?! Bears are lame.

My biggest crush was the wolf. He hung out with such a cool crowd! I wanted to be like them. They were always hunting together and hanging out in a pack and acting cooperatively to raise their cubs. The wolf was really nice, too. I think he was actually kind of impressed with my attitude, which just made me have an even bigger crush. He didn’t seem to mind when I dragged off a piece of his kill now and then. Eventually we started talking over carcasses, but only when his cool friends weren’t around. Whenever they showed up, he’d tell me it was better to leave because they probably wouldn’t like me. Eventually he dispersed from his pack and while he was on his own, we hung out a lot and had some great conversations. Such a nice guy. But the more we talked and the closer we became as friends, the more I realized that we could never be a couple. He wanted to hang out all the time, like the pack animal he is, and I’m an introvert, so I needed more time to myself. He’s a wolf, and I’m a wolverine. Things don’t work that way. He eventually met a mate and seemed to be pretty happy with her. I think she’s kind of a bitch, but maybe wolves go for that. Anyway, we are still friends and I’m so glad I evolved past the crush stage.

I don’t want it to seem like I spent all my time having hopeless crushes, because most of the time I was just happy to be running around in the mountains and finding food. And also there were some weird cross-species crushes where I was the object – for example, the humans who used to follow me around and leave big wooden boxes of beaver as gifts. They even gave me a necklace, but it was ugly, and they also started putting up cameras to take my picture, which I felt was sort of creepy and stalker-esque. Anyway I knew it would never work out because humans and wolverines are too different, and eventually they lost interest and went away.

But then one day I started coming across intriguing scent markings, and then I ran into this guy and I instantly knew that he was a wolverine just like me. It was love at first sight, and it was totally different from a crush.

So that’s why I say that you have to make sure he’s the same species. In your case, it’s more a metaphorical thing than a real biological thing, but some people are compatible based on genuine similarities in character and interests, while others may seem really fascinating because they have characteristics that are so different and intriguing, and that you yourself may want to possess. In the latter case, however, it frequently turns out that you are just too tough for someone who won’t appreciate that toughness, or you’re trying to be something you don’t actually want to be. Or maybe you’re drawn to something that means that you and the person in question would be great friends, but not necessarily great partners.

And when you meet someone who is ‘your own species,’ in the metaphorical sense, they will also immediately think that you are really awesome too. That’s the great, ego-boosting thing that happens in these situations.

If this guy hasn’t even noticed you yet, there’s no way that you’ve gotten to a point where you can tell whether you’re the same species, so you have two options: 1) Stop worrying about it and do something more constructive with your time, or 2) Talk to him and assess why you have a crush on him, and whether you actually get along. It will do no good to demonstrate to him that you are “cool like a wolverine” if he turns out to be a bear. Or a mountain goat. Anyway, just talk to him and be normal about it, and see what happens.

Good luck!

Ms. Wolverine