Rare wolverine spotted again in Sierra Nevada

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Scientists following up on a rare wolverine sighting in the Sierra Nevada set up cameras and captured video of the animal scurrying in the snow, scaling a tree and chewing on bait.

They believe the wolverine is the same one that eight years ago became the first documented in the area since the 1920s.

Chris Stermer, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, set up the remote cameras in the Tahoe National Forest after officials at a field station sent him photos in January of unusual tracks in the snow near Truckee.

“They were definitely wolverine tracks,” Stermer told the Sierra Sun newspaper.

Wolverines, a member of the weasel family that look like a small bear with big claws, once were found throughout the Rocky Mountains and as far west as the Sierra. An estimated 250 to 300 wolverines survive in remote areas of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state, according to wildlife officials.

Prior to the 2008 sighting, scientists were convinced fur trapping during the early 1900s had wiped out the species in California. Now, a warming planet is threatening to shrink the deep mountain snows that wolverines need to den, scientists say.

The male carnivore near Lake Tahoe apparently migrated from the Sawtooth Range in Idaho, Stermer said.

Since then, the animal that scientists nicknamed Buddy has been detected more than 20 times over nearly 300 square miles, but it had not been sighted since November 2014, Stermer said.

Video from the remote cameras soon provided additional evidence. One clip recorded the night of Feb. 19 offers a glimpse of the wolverine before it scurries away. A second daytime clip captured Feb. 27 shows it climb a tree before chomping and tugging at a baited sock.

“When you see them on video, a wolverine is a pretty exciting species to have in California,” Stermer said. “With the population we have in California, thinking that we can have a wild wolverine amongst us is pretty amazing. It really begins to restore our larger carnivores back in California.”

Stermer is awaiting test results on DNA samples taken from saliva collected from the tree bait to confirm its identity.

“I’m pretty certain — 95 percent — that it’s the same animal,” he said.

If the DNA samples match, Buddy is estimated to be at least 9 years old, Stermer said. The life expectancy of a wild wolverine ranges from 6 to 10 years, he said.

Talk of reintroducing wolverines in California has been put on hold while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers its response to a federal court order in Montana that overturned its decision denying protection of the animal under the Endangered Species Act, Stermer said.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to a warming planet.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like