A female wolverine has been spotted in the Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state with two kits in tow, marking the first time wolverines have been seen in this part of the United States in over 100 years. The National Park Service hopes their arrival is evidence of the improving condition of the park, with an ecosystem capable of attracting large-ranging carnivores once more.
Wolverines are typically a tough-to-spot animal as they’re usually solitary and keep away from humans. They are rare in the US, with fewer than 1,000 living in the lower 48 states, and usually keep to themselves in mountainous areas. Washington State is not a typical habitat for wolverines, so this off-the-beaten-track sighting is a very exciting development for the species and Mount Rainier National Park.
The discovery was made by the National Park Service in collaboration with scientists from the Cascades Carnivore Project. With the hope that this is the first of many sightings to come, they have set up cameras throughout the park and are asking the public to report any wolverine sightings or photographs to the Cascade Wolverine Project's website.
“It’s really, really exciting,” said Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins in a statement. “It tells us something about the condition of the park — that when we have such large-ranging carnivores present on the landscape that we’re doing a good job of managing our wilderness.”
They’re the largest member of the weasel family but are so stocky and muscular they often look more like a small bear than its more slimline mustelid relatives. They have a reputation for being ill-tempered and aggressive but the National Park Service states this reputation is somewhat unfair as they are quite shy and so don’t pose a threat to humans.
So, if you’re fortunate enough to catch sight of a wolverine while tramping the trails of the Mount Rainier National Park, fear not. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of these elusive animals was really a botched PR job.