Wolverine, © Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock

Watch Out For Wolverines

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!

Wolverines, © Defenders of Wildlife

A young wolverine kit and its mother were photographed using remote cameras in the Montana wilderness

Two wolverines, © Defenders of Wildlife

Wolverines are persistent scavengers, always on the lookout for a quick bite to eat

Wolverines, © Defenders of Wildlife

Wolverines are exceedingly rare, with fewer than 300 in the United States. Biologists believe there may be as few as 35 breeding adults.

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!

John Motsinger

, Communications Associate

John Motsinger is a Communications Associate at Defenders of Wildlife. He handles press coverage for critters in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains as well as Defenders' national work on the Endangered Species Act.

5 Responses to “Watch Out For Wolverines”

  1. Lolapowers

    Too bad teh good people die so soon while the bad weed remains for a long timeRIP Dave!

    • michael Bean

      Just for the record there are wolverines in Maine. I have seen one to or three years ago while hunting for deer. Last week my father saw two of them last week on his farm and my neice saw one five weeks ago when we had some warm days. We all live in the central Maine area. We haven’t cought any on camera though we have tried.

  2. Tom Engelhorn

    Wolverines need more protection than most people estimate. I hope that Wolverines will be placed on the Endangered Species list as there is a very real possibility that these amazing and awesome animals may be extinct within 50 years. Thanks to the Defenders of Wildlife for their efforts to protect wildlife and educate the public about wildlife.

  3. Bonnie

    I was please to see that I’m not the only person in Maine who has seen a wolverine! I live in Northern Cumberland County and saw my first Wolverine a few days ago. I come from a family of hunters and forestry/warden people and have been around animals in New England forever. We have a ton of Fisher and Gray fox where I’m at – this animal WAS NOT either one of those. I regret that I didn’t get a picture (and the ground was too hard and stoney for tracks)

  4. diana weggler

    My daughter saw a wolverine in Searsmont, Maine in the summer of 2013, late at night. (We live in a rural area.) She described it in detail to me and then when I showed her photos online she confirmed that is what she saw.


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