Wolverine (Gulo gulo)
The wolverine is one of the largest members of the family Mustelidae, or weasels. They are found in alpine forests, tundra, open shrublands and boreal areas of the northern hemisphere. These weasels require large home ranges of undisturbed habitat to be able to survive and reproduce, so the population density in any one area is very low. Due to this, and their need for undisturbed habitat, it is quite rare to see one, particularly in the United States where sightings are extremely rare. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department have deployed camera traps in the Bighorn Mountains and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in recent years in an effort to determine distribution of wolverines in Wyoming. While quite rare, a few camera traps have managed to capture photos of these elusive creatures in the past few years, including two in the GYE.
Wolverines are solitary creatures, only coming together to mate in the summer every other year. They are also extremely aggressive and territorial and will not tolerate individuals of the same sex encroaching on their territory. Lack of resources and territoriality result in home ranges of wolverines ranging from 600 to 1000 square kilometers for the males. They have anal glands which they use to mark their territory to ward off would-be intruders. They are so ferocious, in fact, that they have been known to fight off black bears and wolves from a kill. While a sighting would be incredibly rare, be sure to keep your head on a swivel if you are ever in the high elevation backcountry of the Teton range! Learn more about these mighty mustelids.
Written by Timothy Uttenhove
PC: Mathias Appel on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/2ixjhA5