Wolverines Return To Mount Rainier National Park After More Than 100 Years

August 24, 2020

A family of wolverines has been spotted at Mount Rainier National Park for the first time in over 100 years.

wolverines return 100 years later
Credit: Mount Rainier / Flickr

The wolverines were discovered by scientists of the Cascades Carnivore Project in collaboration with the National Park Service.

It is estimated that only 300-1000 wolverines inhabit the lower 48 US states.

"It's really, really exciting," said Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. "It tells us something about the condition of the park— that when we have such large-ranging carnivores present on the landscape that we're doing a good job of managing our wilderness."

The wolverines were spotted at the park through camera stations, installed by scientists in 2018. The mother wolverine, named Joni by the Cascades Carnivore Project, was identified as a nursing female.

Locations of the camera stations are not released in order to protect wildlife from potential harm or accidental disturbance, but there are still ways for visitors to help monitor wolverine activity.

"Backcountry enthusiasts, skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers can help us monitor wolverines and contribute to studying their natural return to the Cascade ecosystem," said Dr. Tara Chestnut, a park ecologist. "Wolverines are solitary animals and despite their reputation for aggressiveness in popular media, they pose no risk to park visitors. If you are lucky enough to see one in the wild, it will likely flee as soon as it notices you."

"Reporting wildlife observations is very helpful to national park and other public land managers," Chestnut says, "and if someone is lucky enough to get a photo of a wolverine or their tracks, we really want to know about it."

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