Two Oregon Fishermen Have Witnessed Rare Wolverine in Natural Habitat
On Monday(March 20, 2023), two anglers near Portland, Oregon, reported seeing a wolverine in the Columbia River. This is the first sighting of a wolverine outside the Wallowa Mountains in almost three decades (ODFW).
Photos were sent to the Fish and Wildlife Service and the group Cascadia Wild, which performs community science wildlife surveys for wolverines on Mt. Hood, where the animal was spotted. On Tuesday, wildlife experts from the state went to where the wolverine was observed and found tracks.
“We really appreciate the people who reported this rare occurrence and Cascadia Wild who helped us confirm the report and begin monitoring efforts.”
“Given the proximity to Portland, we were amazed when this report came in and elated when we were able to verify the sighting,” said Dave Keiter, District Wildlife Biologist at ODFW. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the Cascadia Wild organization set up two monitoring stations, each with a motion-detecting camera and a hair-collecting device baited with a potent attractant.
If the wolverine is still around, the cameras will prove it. With the help of population genetics, researchers may be able to identify an individual animal from a sample acquired from it at a different site if the animal leaves a DNA sample on the hair-collecting device.
Cascadia Wild volunteers located two excrement samples that might be used for DNA testing and person identification.
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Distribution of Wolverines Across the Continents
Smaller populations of wolverines can be found in Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington, in addition to their widespread distribution in Canada and Alaska. Within the southern part of their range, high-altitude locations are frequent. Since wolverines can cover more than 30 miles per day, likely, it has already left the area.
“Some of the best information on wildlife can come from regular people who are paying attention to what they see,” said Cascadia Wild wolverine tracking coordinator Teri Lysak. “Many thanks to the couple who saw this animal and took the time to share it with us.”
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