By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Yellowstone National Park biologists discovered something rare last month when looking through trail camera footage: a wolverine.
The wolverine (the animal, not the arguably best member of the X-Men) was spotted running through the Mammoth Hot Springs area and managed to trigger a remote trail camera.
Footage of the wolverine was posted to the Yellowstone Twitter account on Wednesday morning. A user asked how rare it was to find a wolverine in the park.
“The last population estimate was 7 in the park!” the Yellowstone account responded.
According to the Yellowstone website, commercial trapping and predator control efforts substantially reduced wolverine distribution in the lower 48 states by the 1930s.
In the greater Yellowstone area, wolverines have been studied using live traps, telemetry, and aerial surveys.
Of the seven wolverines known to be in the park, two are females and five are males, according to the most recent population estimates.
Climate change models predict that by 2050, the spring snowpack needed for wolverine denning and hunting will be limited to portions of the southern Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada range and greater Yellowstone.
Wolverines are so rarely seen and inhabit such remote terrain at low densities that assessing population trends is difficult and sudden declines could go unnoticed for years.