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Evanston Rancher Concerned About Wolverine Threat After One Wolverine Killed 18 Sheep In Utah

in News/wildlife
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The discovery of a wolverine in Utah near the Wyoming border has an Evanston rancher worried about the potential threat the predators bring, he told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

Vance Broadbent, who has cattle, sheep and goats throughout Uinta, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties as well as in Utah, told Cowboy State Daily that even though the number of wolverines in Wyoming is believed to be low, after seeing the damage done by the one in Utah, he is concerned about the predators.

Earlier this month, a wolverine was captured and collared by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources after it was caught attacking sheep.

“Until this incident, I didn’t know the devastation they could wreak,” Broadbent said. “It killed or injured 18 sheep over a couple of days. Then it was relocated to the area that we use for our summer range.”

While Broadbent was glad the animal was collared, he still was concerned about having another predator near his animals.

He said that in the current livestock market, ewes can cost anywhere from $350 to $450, meaning that if he lost 18, he would be out thousands of dollars.

“The bottom line is that those ewes are also producing lambs, so this isn’t just a one-time problem,” Broadbent said.

He added that one of his biggest concerns is how he would be reimbursed if one of his animals were to be killed by a wolverine. In situations where bears or mountain lions have killed one of his animals, the state has reimbursed him for the livestock.

But since wolverines do not have the same protections, any livestock producer would be out the cost of the animal if a wolverine were to kill it.

“I saw there was a sportsman group in Utah who reached out to the producer who lost 18 sheep and are going to reimburse him for the loss,” Broadbent said. “I think that’s awesome, but I also know we would have the same issue in Wyoming as in Utah.”

During the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s most recent wolverine monitoring count, there were only eight recorded in the state, but biologist Zack Walker previously told Cowboy State Daily that there are likely more.

Earlier this month, the sighting of a wolverine in Yellowstone caused so much excitement it became national news.

“They’re still considered a species of great conservation need and they’re actually protected by law in Wyoming,” Walker said. “They fill kind of a middle predator role, where they will eat live prey, but they also do a lot of scavenging, too.”

The entire species nearly went extinct in the 1920s in the lower 48 states because of unregulated harvesting, habitat loss and broad-scale carnivore poisoning, according to the Game and Fish department.

Wolverines are generally not dangerous to humans, unless they are backed into a corner and are desperate.

They are the largest mammal in the weasel family, and while they are similar to badgers, they tend to scavenge more than their temperamental family members.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story said that the state would reimburse a livestock producer when a coyote killed an animal, but this was incorrect. The story has been updated to reflect this.

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Why Are Wolverines In Wyoming So Elusive? There Are Only 6 (Maybe)

in News/wildlife
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Over the weekend, a tour group got the opportunity of a lifetime when they encountered a wolverine out in the wild of Yellowstone National Park.

Wildlife experts say such sightings are extremely rare, with last weekend’s observation in Yellowstone being only the eighth reported in the last 15 years.

Sightings are so unusual, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Biologist Zack Walker, because there appear to be very few wolverines in the state.

“During our last monitoring efforts five years ago, we know we had at least six individual wolverine, but there are likely more,” Walker told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “But that’s the minimum number we know of.”

The department is again monitoring the wolverine population this year, and Walker said that so far, there appear to have been more wolverines detected than in 2017. He didn’t have exact numbers, but he said it seems the monitoring efforts are more successful this year.

Wyoming is not alone in having low wolverine numbers. The entire species nearly went extinct in the 1920s in the lower 48 states because of unregulated harvesting, habitat loss and broad-scale carnivore poisoning, according to the Game and Fish department.

“They’ve been naturally trickling back into the state over the years, reoccupying new areas,” Walker said. “The other part of why they’re so rare to see is because they’re really solitary animals. They have very large home ranges and they’re spaced out across the landscape. Life history has made it so you never really have any congregations of them in one place.”

Event Of A Lifetime

MacNeil Lyons, who runs the Yellowstone Insight tour group, was astounded when he saw the wolverine in Yellowstone over the weekend.

“I’ve worked in Yellowstone for almost 22 years, and over the course of that time, I’ve been very fortunate to have seen some very unique, amazing, wild moments,” Lyons told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “But the only wolverine I’ve seen, before Saturday, was through binoculars at a great distance.”

Lyons compared the wolverine sighting to seeing a unicorn in the park. While he would be happy for more wolverine sightings to occur, he does not necessarily expect to see one again in his lifetime.

“I like to go to work with a pocketful of optimism and a smile on my face,” he said. “You never know what could be around the corner. It’s highly unlikely we will see another one, but it just shows you’ve got to keep coming back to the park. Patience, practice and persistence pays off.”

Wolverines are generally not dangerous to humans, unless they are backed into a corner and are desperate.

They are the largest mammal in the weasel family, and while they are similar to badgers, they tend to scavenge more than their temperamental family members.

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Rare Sighting of Wolverine in Yellowstone; Biologist Says Only 8th Sighting in 15 Years

in News/wildlife
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Photographs Republished With Permission From Yellowstone Insight

A group of people on a tour in Yellowstone National Park over the weekend got the opportunity of a lifetime when they came across a rare sight: a wolverine in the wild.

In what is believed to be only the eighth such sighting in the last 15 years, the visitors riding through the park on a guided tour Saturday saw a wolverine walking through the area. A 2-minute video posted to YouTube by visitor Carl Kemp shows the wolverine moving through the area. The gasps of other visitors on the tour can be heard in the background.

“After an already amazing day in the park, filled with wolves, bears, mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk, golden eagles and more, we turned around to make our way back, when I saw what I thought was a black bear running down the road,” Kemp wrote in the video description. “As soon as it turned, we realized we were in the middle of a once in a lifetime experience.”

The group’s tour guide stopped the vehicle, and allowed the group to take photos and video of the wolverine from a distance.

“The wolverine…appeared to be more curious than afraid,” Kemp said. “It looked at us several times before bounding up the hill. After giving us one more inquisitive look from the top of the hill…it disappeared into the Yellowstone’s deep evergreen forest, and left us all with a memory we will never forget.”


Very Rare Sight

Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Zack Walker told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that the wolverine sighting was a very rare sight.

“We’re getting sightings, but it’s usually on a trail camera or something like that, but very few of them are seen in-person,” Walker said. “We usually hear about a handful of sightings every year.”

The Game and Fish department does not track the sightings in Yellowstone, but according to the park’s website, only seven have been documented in the park over the last 15 years.

Walker said the sightings the department hears about are usually in the western mountain area, though, around Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and Cody.

However, it is an exciting event any time a wolverine is spotted in Wyoming, Walker said. He added he hopes such sightings occur more often and noted that the wolverine population has been expanding in the region, although ever so slowly.

“They’re still considered a species of great conservation need and they’re actually protected by law in Wyoming,” he said. “They fill kind of a middle predator role, where they will eat live prey, but they also do a lot of scavenging, too.”


Photo republished with permission from Yellowstone Insight

Guiding Company

An employee of Yellowstone Insight, a guiding company located outside the park in Montana, took many photos of the wolverine.

They reported seeing the animal at 11:38am on Saturday and said they watched the wolverine for three minutes until an oncoming vehicle made it scamper off the road and back into the wild.

But for those three minutes, they said they were thrilled.

“My guest said out loud, exactly what I was thinking, ‘Is that a bear?’, they wrote on their Facebook page.

“For a hot second, we both thought that it might be a young black bear moving away from us, but as it turned and looked over its right shoulder towards us – there was no mistaking that the animal was indeed, a Wolverine!”

Editor’s note: The story and headline originally said this was the seventh sighting, but it is believed to be the eighth.

Photo republished with permission from Yellowstone Insight

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Wolverine Spotted in Yellowstone

in Yellowstone/News/Good news
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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.

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