Wolverine researcher Audrey Magoun, well known for her work on Alaskan gulos, picked up tracks of a wolverine last week while working on a survey project in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon. The Wallowa Mountains are close enough to breeding wolverine populations in Idaho that wolverine presence isn’t surprising, but this discovery represents the first confirmed sighting in the region.
The size of the prints indicated that the wolverine is a male, which means that he could simply be a disperser. But the region might also represent another node of breeding wolverines in the archipelago of habitat islands in the northwestern US. Hopefully we’ll learn more about this as the research goes forward; Magoun and her partners plan to return next winter to determine whether the area is occupied.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has issued a general call for information on sightings of rare animals – the wolverine is included in the list, along with lynx, wolves, marten, and moose. We don’t believe that wolverines have been present in Wisconsin at any time in recent history, but it seems like the whole country wants to know more about the species, which is great.
In Michigan, the lone female wolverine who captivated the state for six years before her death last winter is now on display, for Michigan residents who want to see their state’s namesake.
It’s exciting to have such farflung news of wolverines, and especially to have news of a possible newly-discovered resident population. Now if only we can determine, closer to home, the status of F3 and her potential kits, we may be able to add another breeding node to the map.