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Wolverine Returns to Colorado after 90-year absence

A wolverine has been recorded in Colorado for the first time since 1919, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The wolverine, a young male labeled M56, has been radio-tracked by scientists since being captured in April near Grand Teton National Park, traveling 500 miles in two months. The finding lends support to a growing body of research showing that wolverines need large areas to thrive — up to 500 square miles for an adult male, the same range as a grizzly bear.

“Wolverines are the real ‘iron men’ of the animal kingdom traveling seemingly non-stop in some of the most rugged country in North America,” said Robert Inman, director of WCS’s Yellowstone Wolverine Program. “It is great news that this animal has ventured into Colorado where it hasn’t been documented in 90 years, but it also underscores the need to manage this species at a multi-state, landscape scale.”

Wolverine and cubs (credit: Mark Packila © WCS)

At up to 30 pounds, Wolverines are the largest land-dwelling members of the weasel family and occupy a range of Arctic and Arctic-like habitats from Alaska and Canada, to high mountain areas in the lower 48 states. The wolverine was once native to found in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and California, but were mostly wiped out by around 1930.

“Recovery has occurred to some degree during the previous 80 years,” stated WCS in a new release. “However, vast areas of suitable habitat on public lands in California, Utah and Colorado do not appear to have breeding populations at present.”

WCS is working with multiple groups to better understand wolverine ecology.

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