What’s that playful fur ball over by the lake? Is it a black bear cub? A giant badger? No, it’s a wolverine!
A similar line of monologue must have been going through Dave Messa’s head last month when he ran into one of the rarest creatures in all of Northern California. Messa was on a solo backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada wilderness when he spotted a wolverine frolicking in the snowmelt near Lake Spaulding. He wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing until he snapped a photo and later verified that it had been a wolverine. Read more from the LA Times.
There are believed to be fewer than 300 wolverines in the United States, and this is only the fourth sighting of a wolverine in California since 2008. It could be the only one in the state, so Messa was indeed lucky to have such a close encounter. Watch this news report from FOX News-Sacramento:
Messa isn’t the only one getting lucky with wolverine sightings, however. Last week, citizen scientist Kalon Baughan collected photographs from Defenders’ remote cameras in the Montana wilderness that turned up a young wolverine (called a kit). This is even more astounding since biologists believe there are only approximately 35 wolverines breeding successfully in the U.S.!
For the past couple years, Baughan had been helping Defenders meso-carnivore expert Dave Gaillard and Defenders partner Wild Things Unlimited monitor important areas for wolverine and lynx activity in Montana and Wyoming. Tragically, we lost Dave at the end of last year in a ski accident, but it’s safe to say that he would have been thrilled to see these photos of wolverines in the wild from cameras he helped set up. Dave’s spirit lives on with every one of these majestic creatures that’s born in the wild!
Kylie Paul, the newest addition to Defenders’ Montana team, will be picking up where Dave left off, trying to save vital habitat for lynx and wolverines in the Northern Rockies. Keep an eye out for further updates from Kylie in coming months.
Go Team Wolverine!