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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

In Wyoming, confirmed Wolverine sightings have been confirmed in the Gros Ventre, Wind River and Absaroka Mountain ranges........One of these animals decided to take a two day 400 mile stroll into the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado over Memorial Day, the first confirmed sighting in this state since 1925.............A Male, Colorado Wildlife Officials would likely have to transplant a female into this territory for there to be potential for a breeding to once again take place here.............

Wolverines documented in new Wyoming territory

Wolverines, as a species, carry a certain mystique. They’re reclusive, high-mountain-dwelling animals with a reputation for not playing well with others.
Their bodies resemble badgers; their paw prints look more like a grizzly bear’s. Their long, sharp claws have been memorialized by the famous Marvel comic book character of the same name.

But out of a species that creates mythology, one Wyoming wolverine has become a bit of a legend in his own right. His number was M56, and because of a more than 400-mile walkabout, he became the first wolverine to live in Colorado in nearly a century, said Bob Inman, a wolverine biologist with the Wolverine Initiative, who first trapped M56 in the early 2009.
What M56 represents was even bigger. The species, which had been almost completely wiped from the Western landscape, could expand, and thrive, in its original territory -- if given the chance.
And that chance is exactly what Inman, 46, has spent the last decade working with government and nonprofits to accomplish.
“There is a multi-state effort to conserve wolverines in the Lower 48,” he said. “The three main prongs are protecting habitat connectivity, restoring wolverines to historical areas like Colorado and then the monitoring program so we know what’s going on in the population.”
It’s the monitoring that brought Inman to the Cowboy State last winter to work with biologists from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. And in Wyoming they discovered wolverines in places they’d never recorded any in the past.
All wolverine information suggests the blue heeler-sized species was gone from the continental U.S. by the turn of the century, Inman said.
“Back then, there were no rules on trapping or poisoning for livestock, and they got wiped out,” Inman said. “There probably weren’t many wolverines at that time anyway; they naturally occur at very low numbers.”
He describes them as the “anti-rabbit.” A female produces about two cubs, or kits, every two to three years.
Their massive paws make them best suited for traversing snow fields at high elevations. They mostly scavenge, eating marmots or winter-killed elk, deer or moose.
In the 1930s, wolverines had started trickling back down from Canada into Montana. In the 1970s, they were given furbearer status in Montana, which restricted trapping to a specific season. About 12 had been killed each year until a few years ago, which was about 6 percent of the population, Inman said.
“Wyoming is the gap we’re least sure of in the Lower 48, and it’s a big gap,” he said. “It could potentially hold a lot of wolverines.”
The creatures are notoriously hard to catch -- Inman and five others once spent an entire winter trying to catch wolverines and netted only five. But the Wyoming surveys didn’t need to be in person.
Inman and others with the Wolverine Initiative put bait on trees near barbed wire that acted as a wire brush against the animal’s fur. The barbs would hold onto hair samples, and a nearby trail camera would snap photos.
What they found through those camera traps, were wolverines living in areas like the Gros Ventre, Wind River and Absaroka ranges.
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“They might have been in the Gros Ventre in the past, but we have a picture now,” said Zack Walker, Game and Fish’s nongame bird and mammal program supervisor. “We know one happened to be there right then.”
The information is particularly important since wolverines were petitioned to be placed on the endangered species list, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided against a listing.
“This will probably be a continued point of contention in the future,” Walker said. “A good first step would be to verify things are where we think they are.”
Wyoming’s information, combined with data from surrounding states, will help paint a clearer picture for the species moving forward, he said.
Eventually, Inman and others would like to see wolverines reestablish themselves in areas like Colorado. Reintroductions would likely be necessary, since not all wolverines, particularly females, travel quite like M56.
The creature wound his way from the Tetons into the Wind River Range, through the Red Desert and into Shirley Basin. He crossed Interstate 80 at 2 a.m. Memorial Day weekend and a couple of days later was well into Colorado, Inman said.
“We hadn’t had a verified record or photograph or clear track in the snow for 90-some years,” Inman said. “Within six days, a guy took a photo of him in Rocky Mountain National Park.”
Colorado biologists followed him periodically for the next few years before the battery died in his GPS implant.
And then like all good Western legends, M56 faded into the mountains, leaving behind stories of his epic journey.

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