Colorado: Wildlife advocates focus on wolverines

Will wolverines make a comeback in Colorado? PHOTO BY ZAC DOWLING, VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Conservation groups sponsoring a series of presentations around the state

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlife advocates are teaming up for wolverine week in Colorado, with several presentations scheduled to give people a chance to meet on of the Rocky Mountains’ most elusive and interesting native mammals.

The series begins Jan. 26 at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards (6 pm. to 8 pm.), as biologist Jason Wilmot shares his experiences tracking, studying, and unraveling the mysteries about this rare animal.

“Their Latin name, Gulo gulo, means “glutton’s glutton” and they come by it because wolverines make their living by scavenging,” said Wilmot. “They have a tremendous sense of smell and will travel over an entire mountain following the scent of carrion that may be buried under six feet of snow. Then they eat as much as they can because they never know where or when their next meal will be.”

Wolverines are astoundingly rugged and capable of mountaineering feats that would be the envy of most humans. In the heart of winter, Wilmot once tracked a wolverine wearing a radio collar and saw it travel up a 5000’ cliff face in an hour and a half. Wilmot says this is an example of why we know so little about this animal even with all the technology we have available to us. Even radio-collared wolverines can simply disappear and show up months later and hundreds of miles away.

That’s the case with a male wolverine, M65, who wandered from Wyoming all the way to Colorado a few years ago, and has been roaming the state ever since. Ranging as far south as the Sawatch Range, the critter has managed to cross dangerous I-70 several times.

“Wolverines are important forest animals that, like many Coloradans, live life on the edge,” said Sloan Shoemaker, executive director of Wilderness Workshop. “Research shows that these animals are tough but also have a softer, family-oriented side. We think folks will come away from Wolverine Night with a new understanding and respect for this amazing species,” he added.

The series continues Jan. 27 in Golden ( 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the American Mountaineering Center); Jan. 28 (Denver Zoo, 7 pm. to 9 pm.), and Jan. 29 in Boulder (6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at REI). Click here to get more info on all the presentations.

The series comes as the federal government eyes endangered species status for the mammal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently ruled that wolverines are threatened by global warming and habitat loss, but decided not to list the species immediately. Read more about the federal decision here.

At the same time, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is in the early stages of considering a reintroduction program. The wildlife agency has already held some early stakeholder talks on a potential plan. Read about CDOW’s efforts here.

The Denver Post also reported on the draft plan to restore the native wolverines to Colorado in this story by Bruce Finley, citing opposition by the state’s ski trade group, Colorado Ski Country USA. Even though there’s only a small overlap between ski terrain and wolverine habitat, Melanie Mills, the organization’s director, is concerned that resorts could face restrictions if wolverines are brought back to Colorado.

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One Response

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colorado, jbeti. jbeti said: Meet some bad ass wolverines – check it out: http://t.co/js5yj9K [...]

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