Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Wolverines in Oregon? The rumors are true

Ecotrope | April 26, 2011 3:57 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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It’s an exciting time for Oregon’s wolverine trackers.

After countless unconfirmed reports of wolverine sightings and years of setting up cameras in remote, snow-covered forests, wildlife biologists working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have finally found what they were looking for.

A baited camera offered the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Oregon in 19 years on April 2. The photo was downloaded on Friday. A very happy Earth Day for wolverine researchers!

A baited camera offered the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Oregon in 19 years on April 2. The photo was downloaded on Friday. A very happy Earth Day for wolverine researchers!

Two wolverines were caught on camera this month in Wallowa County. The first discovery came April 17 with a confirmed set of wolverine tracks. Then, just days later, researchers found their camera in Wallowa County had snapped pictures of two wolverines on April 2 and 13.

Wolverine tracks in the snow, April 17. That's a glove on the left for size comparison.

Wolverine tracks in the snow, April 17. That's a glove on the left for size comparison.

I dug up the 2006 Oregon Field Guide episode above to illustrate just how long the search party has been seeking out this elusive species in Oregon.

Wolverines are listed as a state threatened species, and there have been no confirmed sightings anywhere in the state since 1992.

The species became a candidate for federal Endangered Species Act protections in December of last year, and Meg Kenagy of ODFW told me that the species will be a harbinger of climate change because they den in the snow.

Here’s ODFW’s brief history of wolverines in Oregon:

“The wolverine was listed as threatened by the Oregon Game Commission in 1975, grandfathered as a state threatened species (May 1987) and reaffirmed by rule in 1989. It became a federal candidate species on Dec. 14, 2010.

In 1936, the wolverine was thought to have been extirpated from Oregon. In 1965, a male was killed on Three Fingered Jack in Linn County. In 1973, a wolverine was trapped and released on Steens Mountain, Harney County. In 1986, a wolverine was trapped in Wheeler County. In 1990, a dead wolverine was picked up on I-84 in Hood River County. In 1992, a partial skeleton was recovered in Grant County.”

A second wolverine was photographed at a baited camera station on April 13.

A second wolverine was photographed at a baited camera station on April 13.

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