Kind words for a much-maligned mammal

  • The wolverine’s frame serves as a life-support system for its miledevouring legs and feet. The victim on display is a mountain beaver.

    Doug Chadwick
  • These captive wolverines are several weeks old.

    Daniel J. Cox
 

The Wolverine Way
Douglas Chadwick
278 pages, hardcover: $25.95.
Patagonia Books, 2010.


Wolverines do not have a romantic history. Early trappers and pioneers loathed these carnivores for their elusive, gnarly behavior. Tall tales were told about vicious, crotchety beasts hunting humans in the woods, and by the early part of the 20th century, traps and poisons had ravaged the wolverine population.

Today, only around 300 wolverines roam Montana, Idaho and the Yellowstone-Grand Teton area; a few can be found in Washington's North Cascades. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is slated to decide whether to add wolverines to the endangered species list by the end of the year.

The Glacier Wolverine Project, which ran from 2002 to 2007 in Glacier National Park, investigated the animals' relationships with each other as well as their habitat preferences and mating behavior. Douglas Chadwick, a volunteer with the project, takes us with him as he goes wolverine chasing. In the Wolverine Way, he writes, "What seemed odd was that in the 21st century we understood so remarkably little about one of the most intriguing creatures to ever walk the wild."

Project staff witnessed wolverines engaged in rarely seen social behavior -- adults and yearlings patrolling territory together, even playing in the snow. The anecdotes bring the project's science to life. One researcher used an AM/FM radio as a "surrogate human voice" to slow down a rowdy wolverine trying to claw its way out of one of the study's log boxes. The radio noise, combined with packed snow on top of the box, kept the wolverine from breaking loose, allowing the researcher to catch a nap before coming back at dawn to continue his work. The dedicated staff made late-night ski treks in brutal winter cold to outfit wolverines with transmitters. This is truly on-the-ground, hands-on science.

But the wolverines are the real stars of the book. Their audacious character makes The Wolverine Way an astounding account of a truly unique animal.

"If wolverines have a strategy, it's this: Go hard, and high, and steep, and never back down, not even from the biggest grizzly, and least of all from a mountain," Chadwick declares. "Climb everything; trees, cliffs, avalanche chutes, summits. Eat everybody: alive, dead, long-dead, moose, mouse, fox, frog, its still-warm heart or its frozen bones."

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...