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First wolverine radio-collared in Pacific Northwest

hrer, who is the project field coordinator for the Methow Valley Ranger District in Winthrop.

The capture is the culmination of several years of survey work in north-central Washington to document wolverine presence to begin to understand their habitat needs. "We know so little about these rarely seen animals that this is an exciting opportunity to learn more about their general ecology in the north Cascades," said Fitkin of WDFW.

Wolverines (Gulo gulo) weigh about 20 to 40 pounds, depending on sex and age, and are the largest land-based member of the mustelid family that includes weasels, badgers, and otters. They are primarily found in boreal forest and tundra habitats in the far north, but also occur in mountainous terrain at the southern end of their current range in the Cascades and Northern Rockies. They prey on everything from moose to mice, and often rely heavily on scavenging for food during winter.

"The young female wolverine we collared weighed about 19 pounds, and was in excellent health and condition. She hasn't had kits yet, and is probably just a year old," said Aubry. "It's likely that her parents and possibly siblings are in the same general area, so chances are good that we will collar additional individuals in the traps we've set."

Rohrer and Fitkin will continue to monitor three wolverine traps placed before snowfall in locations where wolverines had previously been detected. The log-cabin-style box traps have been set since mid-January, and are checked every day. They are baited with carrion and provide captured animals with a secure and comfortable space until they are released.

A key reason for conducting this research is the need to understand the wolverine's habitat requirements in the Northwest and maintain the habitat without conflicting with other land uses. With help from satellites 600 miles overhead, Aubry hopes to follow wolverines in the north Cascades for at least 2 more years.


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Source:USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station


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