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Where Are The Wolverines?

[Image: US Fish & Wildlife Service]

The wolverine is the largest land-dwelling species of the Mustelidae family, with a stocky and muscular body more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids. A solitary animal, it has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself. The wolverine has a state status as threatened, and is a federal candidate under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2011, wolverines were confirmed in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon for the first time in recorded history. Since then, only one male named Stormy has returned. There is a breeding population in the Payette Forest in Idaho and a breeding population in the Washington's North Cascades; which is why it had been so interesting that wolverine wouldn't be present in Oregon since they travel large distances. Adult male wolverines lay claim to a home range of about 350 square miles, the equivalent of one person occupying all of Portland, its whole metropolitan area, and Vancouver, Washington. Young animals in search of their home turf cover even more ground.

Wallowa Mountains

The Foundation is supporting field researchers Scott Shively and Kayla Dreher to work under direction and in collaboration with, Audrey Magoun, a recognized wolverine expert and the researcher who first captured the Eagle Cap wolverine on film in 2011. They hope to find evidence and proof of an existing female which has kept Stormy in the area. At the behest of Audrey Magoun, last year OWF initiated this continuing project with Scott and Kayla so their work of tracking and researching Stormy's movements can be used to help educate the public, and in turn bring more awareness to conservation of this charismatic species.

These principal researchers have been updating us on the initial stages of the project since November 2019.

"We set the first few stations a couple weeks ago with the help of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stock support. That was a huge help as we were able to pack a camp and supplies deep into the backcountry to set multiple camera stations, all in one fell swoop!” Scott said.

Cameras being set up to capture the movements of Stormy, the lone wolverine.

While we wait to see what cameras have revealed, Scott and Kayla have sent photo updates from their last trip and monitoring stations. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did! (see images below)

Do you want to help create a better future for Oregon’s wildlife? Please consider making a donation to the Oregon Wildlife Foundation so we can help fund projects like this all across the state.


References: KVAL Eugene, The East Oregonian, Department of Fish & Wildlife, and our project researchers Scott and Kayla.

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