For your reference, here is our cast of wolverines:
F3 – A 3-year old female inhabiting the Absarokas in Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park. She was collared and instrumented in 2007. Although she is of reproductive age, she has not yet – to our knowledge – had kits. She lives in a region where trapping of wolverines is still permitted, and many wolverines have been trapped out of this area over the past few years. There is a resident male in her territory (M57); he moved in in spring of 2009 and we’re hopeful that there will be kits this year.
The Menan Male (M57) – A young male inadvertently caught in a bobcat trap in Menan, Idaho, in spring 2009. WCS transported him to more suitable wolverine habitat in the Centennials, but he promptly took off to the east, settling in the Absarokas in a territory that overlaps with F3’s. The fact that he established a territory here indicates that there was an unoccupied niche for a male in the northern Absarokas – which could explain why F3 apparently failed to produce kits in 2009. We’re hopeful for 2010. M57 was recaptured in a log box trap in February 2010. He was fitted with a collar, checked for fitness, and released. F3 was with him when he was captured, as shown by the trap’s cameras, and the two were picked up within a half mile of each other two days before the capture.
M2 – An older male whose territory encompasses the most remote region in the Lower 48– the Thorofare, more than 30 miles in any direction to a road. M2 was captured, collared, and instrumented in 2005. His territory overlaps with that of F133 and, potentially, the Hypothetical Female.
M4 – A young male first sighted in summer of 2006 in M2’s territory, where he left enough hair in his footprints across high-altitude snowfields for us to collect a viable DNA sample. He was captured, collared, and instrumented during the 2006-2007 winter field season. He disappeared entirely from the radioscape a few weeks after he was instrumented, in March of 2007. When the California wolverine was sighted in spring of 2008, researchers flew the Sierras on M4’s frequency, but didn’t pick him up. His fate remains unknown.
F133 – A 3-year old female born in the Gallatins in Montana. She was captured and instrumented by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s wolverine project before traveling southeast across Yellowstone to the Thorofare region. Her territory overlaps with M2’s, but so far there is no evidence that she has had kits.
F404 – F404 was instrumented in 2002 by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Her territory encompasses a portion of the Tetons, and in 2004 she denned in one of the west-side canyon, the first – and to date, only – documented wolverine reproduction in Wyoming. Her daughters, F405 and F421, were captured and instrumented in May of 2004.
F405 – Daughter of F404, she ventured south to the Palisades before returning to the Tetons. The death of another Teton female in 2002 may have opened up enough space in that range for F405 to make a territory for herself.
F421 – Daughter of F404, she was born in the Tetons in 2004, spent 2005 traveling between the Tetons and the Wyoming Range, and in 2006 settled in the Wind River Range outside of Pinedale, Wyoming. She is the only documented resident wolverine in the Winds.
The Hypothetical Female – She may or may not exist, and evidence for her existence is based primarily on absence. F133’s territory runs up against an invisible line, a single drainage in the southern Absarokas that F133 never crosses. In spring of 2009, M2, whose territory encompasses F133’s but also stretches beyond that to include the region F133 refuses to enter, seemed to restrict his movements around a drainage in this region. He could have been motivated by a rich food source in the area, but he could just as easily have been visiting and marking the den of a female whose kits he fathered. Further anecdotal evidence for this female includes the capture of a yearling male wolverine, the Lava Male, just off Togwotee Pass – in M2’s territory – in January of 2009. DNA analysis could prove that he is M2’s son, in which case – because we know that F133 only reached reproductive age this year – there must be a second female. On the other hand, the Lava Male might just have been wandering through this area.
The Lava Male (M56) – A yearling male captured off Togwotee Pass by WCS in January of 2009. He spent several weeks bounding between the pass and the DuBois region, before heading to the southern tip of the Wind River Range. He stayed there for a few weeks, and then took off to the south. In April 2009, he was documented in the Green Mountains just north of Rawlins, approximately 90 miles from the Colorado border. On June 1, 2009, he crossed the border, becoming the first confirmed wolverine in Colorado since 1919.
Stormy, Iceman, and Zed – Three wolverines camera-trapped in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon in 2011. Stormy and Zed are males, and Iceman is probably a male as well. Are they residents, or just dispersing through the range? Ongoing camera work will determine whether they are there to stay; the research will also look for evidence of female wolverines in the range.