Into the Wild

Wolverine

Wolverine Tracks

Wolverine Tracks

On our little excursion yesterday we saw wolverine tracks, amazing. Why amazing? Well, they are rare and elusive animals. Maybe comparable to the snow leopard with respect to the myths surrounding them…

Last summer in Denali National Park I saw one wolverine coming down the mountain then moving quickly across the tundra, crossing a river and heading up the next mountain. A voracious predator, thats what most people think of a wolverine, although few people may have actually seen one in the wild. The average hunting area of an adult male is over 200 square miles. Wolverines scale mountain slopes with ease and move swiftly even in deep snow. In winter and spring they mostly feed on carrion, which they will defend viciously against other predators, such as bears and wolves. The rest of the year they are taking down elk, deer, even moose, animals much larger than themselves. One report claims that a wolverine killed a polar bear by clinging to its throat suffocating the bear.

Seeing a pair of wolverine tracks in the snow standing in the howling wind makes me appreciate the adaptation of that species to an extreme environment. It is not known how many wolverines inhabit Alaska. One study estimates about 3 animals per 1000 square kilometers. Gulo gulo is considered to be put on the Endangered Species List, but as of today it can be trapped and hunted for most of the year in Alaska. As much as I hope to see another wolverine in the wild, I hope they find a way to elude hunters and trappers.

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