More California Wolverines Photographed

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Two new photos taken this week help prove that last month’s sighting of a California wolverine in Tahoe National Forest wasn’t just a prank from some coyote wearing a wolverine suit. Volunteers also located potential wolverine hair and scat samples, which will be sent to the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Genetic Laboratory to determine how genetically isolated or related this population might be to other wolverines in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Oregon State University graduate student Katie Moriarty, who photographed the first wolverine, helped coordinate a search over 150 square miles of territory that involved dogs, ground searches, hair snares, and overhead flights. Volunteers and professionals from the Forest Service and California Department of Fish and Game helped scour the area for evidence of the large, weasel-like predator/scavenger.

The Forest Service contends that while it’s too early to truly know anything about how wide the wolverine’s range extends in California or how it might affect Forest Service conservation, the discovery of a large mammal in a region previously thought to be devoid of them remains exciting.

One thing’s for sure: Katie Moriarty has a pretty rad graduate thesis on her hands. I know I’d give her an A.

— Ted Alvarez

Additional evidence of wolverine found in Tahoe National Forest (California Department of Fish and Game)