Wolverine at the door: Research camera snaps additional photos of elusive critter
SACRAMENTO ” Researchers again this week snapped two photographs of a wolverine in the Sierra Nevada, which scientists said bolstered evidence that the elusive animal is roaming the 400-mile long mountain range.
The two new photos surfaced several weeks after an Oregon State University graduate student shot the first picture of a wolverine in California since the 1920s.
The photo was taken north of Truckee.
Researchers also found wolverine tracks and collected about 50 hair and feces samples this month in an attempt to identify the animal’s heritage and determine if there is more than one in the area.
“It’s helping scientists learn if the animal came from another area, escaped from captivity or is from a historical population,” said Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Martarano.
Researchers, biologists and volunteers have spent the past few weeks combing the Tahoe National Forest searching for wolverines since graduate student Kathy Moriarty first discovered the animal on Feb. 28.
Her photo of the wolverine was produced from a motion-and-heat-detecting digital camera set up at the U.C. Berkeley Sagehen Field Station north of Truckee.
It remains unclear whether this week’s photos are images of the same wolverine, Martarano said.
Meanwhile, the effect the discovery will have on the Tahoe National Forest have not been determined, officials said.
“It is too early to say how this will affect the national forest,” said Tom Quinn, Tahoe National Forest Supervisor, in a news release. “We are working with the researchers and wolverine experts to learn as much as we can.”
If the wolverine were declared an endangered species in California, it could affect land-use decisions in the Sierra Nevada, although most wolverines live at high altitudes away from developments.