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A wolverine that researchers have tracked since early April has crossed into northern Colorado, the first known incidence of a wolverine in the state for 90 years (since 1919).
Wolverines are the largest land-dwelling members of the weasel family. Adult wolverines average about 30 pounds. Resident adults occupy arctic habitats in Alaska and Canada, and range south into the lower 48 states only high in mountains where near-arctic conditions exist.
The Colorado wolverine, a young male labeled M56, was captured near Grand Teton National Park and traveled approximately 500 miles during April and May, successfully navigating significant man-made features including Interstate 80, wildlife officials announced today.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researchers affixed a radio-tracking collar to the wolverine as part of an ongoing study to understand these wide-ranging little-known animals. A growing body of research is showing that wolverines need large areas to survive and that the young often disperse long distances between mountain ranges to find a territory and mates.
A wolverine’s home range is often as large as a grizzly bear’s, scientists explained in a statement. The size of a wolverine’s territory, as much as 500 square miles for some adult males, limits the number of individuals that a given area can support. Adults tend to inhabit areas above timberline where there are snow-covered avalanche chutes and freezing temperatures much of the year.