The wolverine is an animal roaming Idaho that you’ve probably never seen – but you might have wondered, ‘what are they, exactly?’
Only 300 are estimated to be left in the lower 48 – mostly in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It’s also the mascot of several Idaho schools including Wood River Valley High School in Hailey.
The wolverine looks like a small bear with a bushy tail but it’s actually the largest member of the weasel family. They are about 26 to 34 inches long and weigh anywhere from 24 to 40 pounds.
Wolverines mostly eat smaller prey like rabbits and rodents but they are powerful creatures who can easily attack and kill large prey like caribou.
Wolverines are solitary animals – meaning they travel and live alone. One wolverine could travel up to 15 miles a day in search for food.
In order for them to reproduce and rear their young, wolverines need deep snowpack and Idaho’s large mountain ranges provide the conditions for them to thrive. However, according to the Idaho Conservation League, “the ability of the habitat to support a viable population of wolverine is declining as climate change decreases the extent, depth, and duration of the snowpack.”
Conservation groups have been working to get wolverines listed as threatened on the Endangered Species List for many years. So far, they haven’t had luck.
In 1995, the wolverine was first petitioned to be listed under the Endangered Species Act and today, the Idaho Conservation League continues to advocating for the protection of the wolverine habitat to so they can survive and reproduce.
“Recent studies have found that female wolverines avoid play areas frequented by snowmobiles and backcountry skiers,” the ICL website notes. “As our snowpack shrinks and winter recreation expands, wolverines are going to have fewer and fewer areas with suitable habitat.”
To read more about Idaho’s wolverine, click here.