As we get closer to our upcoming Wolverine Night on April 29th, the NRCC office is buzzing with excitement and activity. We just had a conference call with Gianna Savoie, the director of the upcoming PBS Nature film Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom, and Doug Chadwick, whose book The Wolverine Way is being released this month. Doug also has an article on wolverines in the spring issue of the Patagonia catalog. Both Doug and Gianna are speaking at Wolverine Night, along with Jeff Copeland, whose new paper linking wolverine distribution with deep spring snowpack definitively illustrates the threats of climate change to the species (more on this paper next week.) By interweaving science and two compelling forms of storytelling, the event will cover the gamut of wolverine work, from the painstaking data collection and analysis, to the glamor of film-making, to the awe-inspiring feats of the animal itself.
If Glacier – where Doug’s book is set – and the Greater Yellowstone – where we do our work – are at the heart of wolverine country in the Lower 48, the outlying islands of habitat in the Cascades are the next frontier in wolverine research. Jocelyn Akins, who works on wolverines at the Cascades Carnivore Project, mentioned that tomorrow is the day they will discover the sex of their single documented wolverine – if the DNA sample that they collected earlier this winter amplifies. The project is hosting a competition to name the wolverine, so if anyone wants to participate, head over to the Project site. They’ll choose their favorite name once they know if their wolverine is a male or female. There are several pictures of the wolverine up on the Project’s blog, and we spent some time debating here in the office about whether it looked like a male or a female. Females do tend to be smaller and more delicate, and in some of the photos the wolverine does appear more graceful, but on the other hand, if it’s a single wolverine out in the middle of nowhere, it’s more likely to be a male. In any case, we are very intrigued, and are keeping fingers crossed that the the DNA sample is viable.