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Natural Resources & Energy

First Year Of Wolverine Monitoring Expands Knowledge Of Species' Range

Wyoming Game and Fish

The wolverine is one of the most elusive animals in the wild… not the easiest beast to get on camera. But Wyoming Game and Fish successfully photographed one in the Gros Ventre Range this year, the first documented there since the species was trapped out of the state in the last century. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says the photograph came as a surprise.

“We were able to get a photograph of a wolverine in the Gros Ventre, which has not been documented before. So that was pretty exciting. And then we had a number of wolverines seen in five other locations in Wyoming.”

…including the Wind River, Absorka and Wyoming Ranges. Walker says, total, they documented 53 sightings by an estimated 5 wolverine. Walker says Wyoming is partnering with Idaho, Washington and Montana to document the number of wolverines moving down to re-occupy old range in Wyoming’s highest elevations. But, he says, such a secretive animal takes special monitoring techniques.

“He’ll come in, see the bait, climb up the tree to get the bait. And as it’s climbing up the tree to get the bait, and as it’s climbing up, it’ll rub itself against these wire brushes and lose some hair. And we’ll come in every month, collect those off the wire brushes and that’ll get sent in for genetic testing to see if that truly was a wolverine.”

Walker says wolverines were passed over for endangered species listing last year. But wildlife advocates say they’ll fight the decision in court. Walker says that’s why Game and Fish decided more information about the species in Wyoming was needed. They plan to expand monitoring into the Teton and Bighorn Ranges this year. The hope is that more fertile females are moving in to raise young here.

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