Rare Wolverine Sighting Reported At Antelope Island State Park
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said they are confident video from Antelope Island State Park shows a rare wolverine sighting.
This would be just the fifth confirmed wolverine sighting in Utah and the first since June 2016.
“Wolverines are very rare to see because they are largely nocturnal and they travel quickly, typically not staying in one area long enough to be found or seen,” said Adam Brewerton, a wildlife conservation biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “We believe this wolverine sighted on Antelope Island is just passing through, since Antelope Island does not have suitable habitat. It is always exciting to hear of wolverine sightings in the state and especially when we have video evidence.”
Jame Shook took the video and was excited to see the fearsome animal. “It saw us and started running back toward land. And it’s got that loping gate that a wolverine has. It’s pretty unique. I could just tell right off the bat that that’s what it was.”
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In a way, it was a dream that came true for Shook.
“To see one at all is pretty exceptional. To see one in Utah is almost unheard of… yeah… extraordinary. And it’s funny, this has been since I was six years old. There’s no animal I wanted to see more than a wolverine,” he said.
Posting the video excited a lot of people in Utah, but not everyone.
“I’ve been called a liar a lot in the last day, but that’s understandable, I mean it’s so extraordinary. You can’t really fault people for being skeptical.”
Biologists visited the area Wednesday to try and locate the animal, but they did not find any tracks because the ground is so hard in that area of the state park.
“Particularly rare on Antelope Island to see a wolverine, because it’s just not wolverine habitat. Typically they’re found kind of up in the high Uintas, kind of rugged mountain areas, and that’s partly why they’re so hard to see,” said Faith Jolley, DWR Spokeswoman
DWR biologists said the animals typically scavenge carcasses and are known to hunt many different kinds of animals, ranging from squirrels to birds to larger animals in deep snow.
Jolley added, “They have really big kind of home ranges of like 350 square miles, so they’re on the move a lot, they don’t stay in one area very long. And we feel like, with this wolverine, it was just kind of passing through the area.”
Wolverines are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act but they are protected under Utah law.
The DWR receives several reports of wolverine sightings in the state each year, but the animals are so elusive that it is unclear exactly how many are currently in Utah and whether there is an established population.
A single wolverine can have a home range of 350 miles and travel long distances, DWR officials said.
Most sightings come from the High Uintas and the DWR has placed cameras in potential habitat areas to try to monitor wolverines in the state.
Confirmed Wolverine Sightings In Utah
- June 29, 2016: A female wolverine carcass was located by the Utah Department of Transportation after it was hit and killed by a vehicle about one mile west of Laketown, near Bear Lake in Rich County.
- December 2014: Wolverine tracks were found near Dutch John.
- February 2014: A wolverine was captured in a photo at a camera bait station in the Uinta Mountains.
- 1979: A wolverine was hit and killed by a vehicle on U.S. Highway 40, east of Vernal.
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