The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has captured, collared, and relocated its first wolverine. Utah as a whole has only had 8 confirmed wolverine sightings since 1979, so for one to be monitored like this is groundbreaking.
According to the Utah DWR, efforts to capture the wolverine started on March 10 when officials noticed the animal feasting on a dead sheep. There were 18 dead or wounded sheep in that area, and Wildlife officials were cleaning up the area. A DWR biologist and trapper from the Utah Department of Agriculture set up traps with bits of the dead sheep. The next day, they caught a wolverine.
The wolverine was taken to the DWR offices and examined; biologists drew blood, took hair samples and measurements, and monitored breathing and heart rate. Then, the scientists collared the wolverine with GPS and set about relocating it.
According to Northern Region Wildlife Manager Jim Christensen, the animal was in great condition. It was a male, between 3 and 4 years old. The team relocated the wolverine to the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains.
“Having a collar on this wolverine will teach us things about wolverines in Utah that would be impossible to learn any other way,” said Christensen. Apparently, there’s a bit of a mystery surrounding Utah wolverines. Christensen explained, “Four different wolverine sightings were confirmed in Utah in 2021. Were we seeing the same animal or different animals last year? Having a collar on this animal will help us solve that riddle.”
Colorado Moving to Reintroduce Wolverines to the State
In other recent wolverine news, it looks like Colorado is aiming to reintroduce wolverines to the state. The last wolverine seen in Colorado was in 2009, and before that in 1919. Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Travis Duncan spoke with the Colorado Sun about the importance of wolverines, and what the plan is for the state.
“We will be working with a wolverine expert who is going to take on updating and providing greater detail on a wolverine restoration and management plan,” said Duncan. “The contract isn’t in place yet, but we hope to be able to say more on this soon.”
So, hopefully soon, wolverines will be back in Colorado. Wolverines are extremely rare, based on the gaps between sightings in Colorado and other places like Utah. Male wolverines claim swaths of land for hundreds of miles. They inherently know when another wolverine claimed land, and don’t trespass.
These incredible animals still stump Jeff Copeland, researcher with the Wolverine Foundation for 20 years. “You got me,” he said about why wolverines act the way they do. “They develop a wanderlust about reproduction maturity, around two years of age, and they just end up in the darndest places.”