I wanted to quickly post two thoughts: first, belatedly, Happy Valentine’s Day. This is actually an important day for wolverines all over the world, since it marks the approximate date of birth for every wild wolverine on the planet. As I write, female wolverines from the US to Canada to Russia to Mongolia to Scandinavia are burrowing into their snow dens and giving birth. If our female wolverine F3 is pregnant this year, that’s what she is most likely doing too.
At some point soon we will try to determine whether or not she’s localized by sending a telemetry flight on three successive days. If the flight locates her in the same area over those three days, she is most likely in a den with kits. I’m also curious as to what M57, her mate, is up to, and whether he is also in proximity to the den (if there is one…), since father wolverines play some role in protecting and raising their offspring. The precise parameters of this role are still up for debate, so if F3 is denning, it will be interesting to follow M57 as well. (Several days after we caught F3 last month, M57 also went into the trap; we didn’t have a collar ready and had to let him go, but he and F3 were at least relatively close to each other as of a few weeks ago.)
I waited to post this until today, since February 15th marks the close of Montana’s wolverine trapping season. Three wolverines in total were killed in the state this year, at least one of them a female. No wolverines were reported killed in region 3, where F3 and M57 live. I’ve had several comments over the past few weeks about trapping, and this is something I intend to write about soon, in connection with the broader issue of how we manage social conflicts around wildlife conservation. For now, I’m incredibly relieved that F3 and M57 made it through another year, and, although I am not opposed to the idea of hunting, and have a lot of respect for ethical hunters both here in the US and in Mongolia, I am also sorry for the loss of those three animals, for the sake of the overall wolverine population. I wish that Montana was crawling with so many wolverines that every trapper could take one and it wouldn’t even make a difference to the population at all. Unfortunately the scientific evidence points increasingly towards the fact that this is not the case.