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Know the West

Latest: Wolverines found in unexpected corners

Scientists recently discovered the species in Wyoming’s Wind Rivers and Washington’s South Cascades.



By the early 1900s, trapping and poisoning had killed off most wolverines in the Lower 48, and today, fewer than 300 remain, mostly in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The deep snowpack they require to raise young is declining, due to climate change. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed federal protections in 2013, but backtracked in July 2014, citing uncertainty about the impacts of climate change (“Climate changes for wolverine listing,” HCN, 8/4/14).



Now, for the first time in more than a century, both male and female wolverines have been found in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, and a breeding female was documented in Washington’s South Cascades, south of I-90. The discoveries came during the first range-wide wolverine survey, conducted this spring by federal agencies, five states and tribes. Bob Inman, furbearer coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Casper Star-Tribune, “The three things we’re working on are connectivity, reintroductions to historic range and monitoring the population.”