Rare wolverine siting made in King Hill

Thursday, April 3, 2008
A wolverine sits on top of an utility pole.

Some residents in the King Hill area were treated to a rare sight last Tuesday morning when someone spotted a wolverine on top of a telephone pole along Montgomery Road.

Jeff Day, area game warden for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, responded to the scene after being notified by a resident that there was a badger on a telephone pole.

Since badgers can't climb, Day knew this was a case of mistaken identity.

Day called Fish and Game headquarters to ascertain what the agency wanted to do with the stranded wolverine. Department officials decided to leave the animal undisturbed, hoping it would come down on its own, and opting not to use a tranquilizer gun to speed up the process. By noon, the animal had climbed down off the pole and was last spotted heading north, Day said.

Day is hoping the animal will not be shot by someone mistaking it for a badger.

Wolverines are the largest land members of the Mustelidae family, which includes badgers, weasels, ferrets and otters. Typically associated with alpine environs, wolverines have an expansive range, with a male's range encompassing more than 240 square miles. A wolverine can cover hundreds of miles in just a few days.

Wolverines are stocky and muscular and are considered extremely ill-tempered. There have been reports of them driving off cougars and grizzly bears.

In general, the animal has glossy brown fur with stripes of dull yellow along its sides. The fur is long and dense and does not retain much water, making it very resistant to frost. Although considered carnivorous they are known to occasionally eat plant material.

In the past, wolverine pelts were much prized by humans for use as coat lining. But today, the wolverine in Idaho has been designated as a Species of Greatest Consideration and anyone thinking about lining a jacket with the pelt of a wolverine should also consider the penalties for killing one: a fine up to $1,000; a three year suspension of hunting privileges and up to six months in jail.

In the past two years, Day has received only two other reports of wolverine sightings in the valley.

Day said that wolverines are not necessarily rare in this area but, due to the animal's elusive nature, seeing one is a rarity. He noted that the species is predominately nocturnal but will venture will out during the day when hungry.

State wildlife biologists are attempting to gather more information about Idaho's wolverine population. Anyone who observes a wolverine is encouraged to contact Fish and Game at 465-8465.

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  • Just curious. Could you send me the link to the reports of wolverines driving off cougars and grizzlys? I am wondering how often this has been seen especially since it is so rare to see even a solitary wolverine in the wild. It ought to be even more rare to witness one tangling with another predator.



    -- Posted by wade on Sat, Apr 5, 2008, at 12:47 PM
  • Many years ago I saw some film footage of a wolverine coming upon 3 to 4 wolves feeding at a fresh kill. As the wolverine approached the entire group of wolves yielded the kill to the wolverine.

    It might have been Disney film or one of the outdoor photog outfits.

    -- Posted by bwints on Mon, Apr 7, 2008, at 7:36 PM
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