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Do wolverines need a passport?

Posted by Barbara Christensen at Apr 03, 2010 09:30 PM |
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Three wolverines in WA were on the move this winter, and apparently, they are international travelers. A collaborative research effort that reached across the border to BC placed collars on three wolverines to better understand how these wily predators travel throughout our region. The results were surprising, and we have maps. Everyone likes maps.

Three wolverines in WA were on the move this winter, and apparently, they are international travelers.

wolverine-map2wolverine map 2A collaborative research effort that reached across the border to BC placed collars on three wolverines to better understand how these wily predators travel throughout our region. They found that a young female is ranging far and wide, much to their surprise. 

You can see how  the wolverines traveled across the region in these maps (click each image or these links map 1, map 2).

Eowyn (a young female), Rocky (adult male), and a female that is believed to be an animal researchers have met in past years named Melanie were collared and are being tracked remotely by scientists from PNW Research Station, US Forest Service, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Ministry of the Environment.

The young Eowyn has not established a home turf yet and is travelling amazing distances on both sides of the border.  The straight line distance from her southern most satelite location in Washington State to her northern most location in British Columbia is 178 miles! Rocky also made trips on both sides of the border as well, while the other female remained in southern British Columbia. 

A recent Wenatchee World article covered the study;

That kind of a continuous trek covering great distances is something a male wolverine might do when they’re out looking for a mate, said Keith Aubry, research biologist for the U.S. Forest Service’s Research Station who is heading the wolverine study. “It’s not the kind of thing you’d expect a juvenile female to do,” he said. Even one named after a fictional noblewoman from “Lord of the Rings” who fancied herself a warrior.

Allowing wolverines to roam means protecting the critical habitat path for wolverines between the North Cascades and the central and southern Cascades. Wolverines travel long distances and move through high elevation areas, like Stevens Pass, that get snow earlier and hold it later in the year.

These remarkable and rare species travel this terrain in rough winter conditions, showing us that not only are wolverine tenacious travelers, but that wildlife really do know no borders.

[Science knows no borders either: see the reports from our 2009 Wild Links conference in BC]
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