My mother tells me that she was recently at a talk on mountain lions in New Hampshire, where my family has had a summer house since 1922 (lest anyone think this marks me a rich snob, let me hasten to add that the summer house in question still had an outhouse until two years ago – now upgraded to a composting toilet – and remains essentially primitive. Which is why we love it.) During this talk, the presenter apparently talked about wolverines as a ‘rare mammal of New Hampshire;’ my mother, who, like my entire family, has been inundated over the past few years with minutiae about wolverine ecology, brought up the lack of adequate denning habitat in the region, and was laughed at by the audience for not realizing that snow on Mount Washington until June should count (the presenter, in fact, evidently asserted that there was a glacier on the mountain, which is entirely inaccurate.) I love New Hampshire and I wish that there were wolverines running around the entire state, but a breeding population would require hundreds of square miles of deep spring snowpack to persist, and remnant snowpack in Tuckerman’s Ravine isn’t enough to support such a population. Bottom line: unless there’s an extremely elusive population of wolverines behaving in a completely un-wolverine-like manner – denning in trees, for example – somewhere in the White Mountains, the only gulos in the state are probably released captives.
New Hampshire does, however, support a population of the wolverine’s cousin, the marten, and the Tin Mountain Center for Conservation will be hosting a talk about them this Thursday, the 20th, at 7 pm in the Tin Mountain Nature Learning Center in Albany, New Hampshire. Michael Jones, the researcher conducting the work via his organization, Beyond Ktaadn, will also talk about looking for wolverines in Quebec, where most wolverine biologists believe the species was extirpated by the 1980’s. A brief excerpt about Jones’ interest in wolverines was published last year in Appalachia, the journal of the Appalachian Mountain Club; the whole article is available as a .pdf (seems like yet another account of wolverine obsession driving researchers past the limits of normal human endeavor….even if he doesn’t find wolverines, the focus on eastern alpine tundra is a great counterpoint for those of us who are seeking to understand alpine tundra ecosystems out West and as far afield as Mongolia.) Details about the talk can be found here and here.