Year Three For Wolverine Study

Mar 28, 2017

One of four photos taken of wolverines this winter in northwest Wyoming.
Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Four wolverines were detected this year in a study of the species in the northwest corner of the state.

It’s the third year that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has conducted its survey to count the rare, widely roaming wolverine in the state.

Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

They believe only about five live here currently.

This year, they installed camera traps in Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorn Range and around Cody. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says, they actually recognized one of the wolverines caught on camera.

“There’s one that was caught eleven years ago actually by wolverine researchers and is very identifiable because it had a white sock on its left paw,” said Walker. “And so we could pretty much tell exactly by markings which one that was. So we’re pretty excited to see we had an eleven-year-old female.”

The Game and Fish is done conducting wolverine monitoring until 2020 or later. Walker says, in the meantime, a group of citizen scientists in the Bighorn Range will continue collecting data there. 

Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

While many deer and elk have suffered from this winter's deep snow, Walker says wolverines are probably benefiting. 

"They den in snow caves and snow has provided winter kill, so you get some animals that have been weakened and die because of the winter, it provides more food for them. So if nothing else, I think it might have helped them out." 

Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Walker says this the Game and Fish's will now submit the data they've collected over the last three winters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to help them determine whether wolverines qualify for endangered species listing.

The concern is that global warming is affecting its ability to thrive in the lower 48 states.