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iWild: For more see iWild.org

The Fighting Wolverines

The University of Michigan’s sports teams have been known as the Wolverines since 1861, and Michigan itself is known as the Wolverine State. Sadly, on March 13 the first and only wild wolverine seen in Michigan for 200 years was found dead, apparently of natural causes, near a beaver dam in the Minden City State Game Area. This Endangered All-Star is currently rated a “Least Concerned” species in the IUCN Red List, but its future is uncertain and it may soon join the ranks of the vulnerable and threatened. “There is an overall continued decline due to human persecution and land-use change,” the IUCN explains, but for now “the global decline of this species is not at a rate sufficient to qualify for listing at this time.” With its range much reduced due to development, the wolverine has become a circumboreal species that is still found in significant numbers from Scandinavia east through Eurasia north of 48° N latitude and across Alaska and western Canada. Still, the North American subspecies Gulo gulo luscus is exceedingly rare in the U.S. lower 48 states, with small populations reported in Idaho, Montana, and northwestern Wyoming and rare sightings in a few other states. Legend and mystery have always surrounded the elusive wolverine. In Canada, at least one First Nations myth states that the wolverine created the world. “Wolverine ecology is not well understood,” according to the definitive volume Wild Mammals of North America. Human-caused mortality, the authors add, are the most significant cause of wolverine deaths, noting that “large tracts of pristine habitat may be the only assurance of their continued existence.” Few of us will ever see a wolverine in the wild, but this stunning video of a wolverine successfully hunting a snowshoe hare offers a glimpse of this predator’s skill and prowess.
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