Wolverines are back! (or are they?)

by ryancappakelly


Considering that the Field Trip Explainers are about to embark on a journey into the wilds of Point Reyes I would like everyone to know that WOLVERINES ARE BACK IN CALIFORNIA.

According to an article on SierraSun.com (don’t read it online though because you will be putting the print version out of business!!) a researcher’s motion activated camera captured the first evidence of a wolverine in California in a longish time.


You might be asking yourself  “So what?”

Well let me tell you a little bit about the mighty wolverine.  They have been known to face down bears, cougars, unicorns,  and wolves.  Scared yet? You should be.  They also have a molar tooth that is rotated 90 degrees from the normal position so they can more easily tear frozen flesh and crunch bones to get at the marrow! (see wikipedia.com)

In an article posted on patagucci.com Douglas H. Chadwick discusses his field research with wolverines in Montana’s Glacier National park.  Chadwick describes wolverines tearing their way out of wood traps with 8 inch thick walls in a matter of hours and ascending 4,900 vertical feet in 90 minutes.  Not bad for an animal that averages 30 pounds.


At this point you might be asking yourself if this is one native animal you are happy to see making a come back in California.  Some scientists are investigating the possibility that the wolverine photographed is actually a captive animal that was either released or escaped.  Using DNA samples collected from recovered fur and scat they will determine to which population the individual is more closely related.  If the sample is similar to the wolverine population found in Idaho there is a strong possibility that the animal wandered into the Sierras on its own.  However, if the DNA more closely resembles the wolverines in Alaska or the Yukon it would seem more likely that it was introduced back into the Sierras by humans.


This is the most current information I have found on the topic.  I’ll be sure to update you all if anything exciting pops up! Oh yeah, I first caught wind of this story on supertopo.com  which has an amusing rock climbing forum full of accurate and intelligent postings (not).


Thanks for reading and keep your head up on the retreat!


Ryan Kelly