Scientists following up on a rare
 wolverine sighting in the Sierra Nevada set up
cameras and captured video of the animal scurrying
in the snow, scaling a tree and chewing on bait.
They believe the wolverine is the same one that eight
 years ago became the first documented in the area
 since the 1920s.
Chris Stermer, a wildlife biologist with the California
 Department of Fish and Wildlife, set up the remote
 cameras in the Tahoe National Forest after officials
at a field station sent him photos in January of
 unusual tracks in the snow near Truckee.
"They were definitely wolverine tracks," Stermer
 told the Sierra Sun newspaper.
Wolverines, a member of the weasel family that look
like a small bear with big claws, once were found
 throughout the Rocky Mountains and as far west
 as the Sierra. An estimated 250 to 300 wolverines
 survive in remote areas of Montana, Wyoming,
Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, according
 to wildlife officials.

Sighting at the California/Nevada border

Prior to the 2008 sighting, scientists were
convinced fur trapping during the early 1900s
 had wiped out the species in California. Now,
a warming planet is threatening to shrink the
 deep mountain snows that wolverines need
 to den, scientists say.
The male carnivore near Lake Tahoe apparently
 migrated from the Sawtooth Range in Idaho,
Stermer said.
Since then, the animal that scientists nicknamed
 Buddy has been detected more than 20 times
 over nearly 300 square miles, but it had not
 been sighted since November 2014, Stermer said.
Video from the remote cameras soon provided
additional evidence. One clip recorded the night
 of Feb. 19 offers a glimpse of the wolverine
before it scurries away. A second daytime clip
 captured Feb. 27 shows it climb a tree before
 chomping and tugging at a baited sock.

Truckee California near the Nevada border

"When you see them on video, a wolverine is
 a pretty exciting species to have in California,"
 Stermer said. "With the population we have in
California, thinking that we can have a wild
wolverine amongst us is pretty amazing. It
really begins to restore our larger carnivores
 back in California."
Stermer is awaiting test results on DNA
samples taken from saliva collected from
the tree bait to confirm its identity.
"I'm pretty certain — 95 percent — that it's
 the same animal," he said.
If the DNA samples match, Buddy is
 estimated to be at least 9 years old, Stermer
 said. The life expectancy of a wild wolverine
 ranges from 6 to 10 years, he said.
Talk of reintroducing wolverines in California
has been put on hold while the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service considers its response to a
federal court order in Montana that overturned
its decision denying protection of the animal
under the Endangered Species Act, Stermer said.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered
 wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to
protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to
 a warming planet.