Wolverine spotted again near Truckee (w/video)
March 19, 2009
TRUCKEE ” The wolverine first spotted north of Truckee and Lake Tahoe last winter has turned up again on logging company land.
The wolverine, a relative to weasels and skunks, was first spotted on remote cameras by graduate student Katie Moriarty in the Sagehen Field Station north of Truckee last February. Now, a year later, remote cameras spotted the predatory mammal only 15 miles away on Sierra Pacific Industries land as recently as last week.
“This is a remarkable discovery,” said Richard Callas, senior environmental scientists with the California Department of Fish and Game. “Prior to this there wasn’t one in California since the 1920s.”
Using a bristle brush near the chicken-bated cameras, hair was collected for a DNA sample, confirming the wolverine spotted on camera in December is the same as the one from earlier last year, said Mark Pawlicki, spokesman for Sierra Pacific Industries.
“We hoped it was another individual, perhaps a female so we would have a pair,” Callas said. “But the fact it was the same one is very interesting. It managed to survive at least a year here.”
Just how the wolverine got to California ” its DNA belongs to a group from the Rocky Mountains, not the last known of its kind in California ” is still a mystery.
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The minimum distance the wolverine would have had to walk was about 600 miles from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho ” not impossible for the long-ranging, solitary predator.
“The last photo was just last week,” Pawlicki said. “Our biologist say he has a tremendous prey base because of the varying age of the timber.”
Pawlicki said the cameras and other research equipment are a part of ongoing carnivore research on Sierra Pacific Industries property, that they use to inform land management decisions and share with public agencies.
The land on which the wolverine was spotted was logged as recently as last summer, Pawlicki said.
“We have 250 species inhabiting our land, not counting migratory birds,” Pawlicki said.
The latest discovery won’t likely alter Sierra Pacific Industries land management in the area, Pawlicki said, as the wolverine already seems to find the land a suitable habitat.