Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family, ranging across the boreal forests, taiga, and tundra ecosystems of North America, Europe, and Asia.
Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family and range across the boreal and alpine ecosystmes of North America, Europe and Asia. Wolverines prefer remote wilderness with thin-moderate forest cover at mid-high elevations. Within the USA, they are found in the remote mountains of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and possibly the upper Great Lakes region.
General Description: Recent findings suggest that at least one individual exists in the Sierras of California. Hunting and trapping has eliminated them from their former range in northern New England.
Wolverines live 8-12 years in the wild, a fairly broad estimate limited by the animals elusiveness. Only 300-500 hundred animals are thought to exist in the lower 48 states. Size Male wolverines average 25-50 pounds, and females 15-30. Males stand about 16" at the shoulder, and females 14".
They have 2'-3' long bodies and a 7-10" tail. Traits and Behavior Wolverines are best known for their stamina, tenacity and aggression, traits that enable them to hunt much larger animals.
Despite their disproportionate strength and intemperate disposition, wolverines pose little threat to humans. Wolverines are stout and powerfully built, with short legs and wide feet optimized for traveling in snow. They have long, sharp claws ideal for digging out prey and climbing trees.
Long, thick fur makes them highly tolerant of cold climates and willing swimmers. Wolverines have poor eyesight but very good hearing and smell. While primarily nocturnal, their activity levels adjust accordingly to long summer days of their northern latitude habitats.
Diet: Wolverines are omnivores with a preference for meat, willing to travel 10-15 miles a day in search of food. Wolverines eat plants and berries, but are primarily sustained by hunting rabbit, hare, rodents, and an occasional large animal such as a weakened caribou. They also feed on carrion (animal carcasses), a primary winter food source.
Reproduction: Mating season runs May-August, a window generally determined by the short summers of their habitat. Males scent-mark their territories, but will share them with females and are believed polygamous. Females dig deep dens (or occupy something comparable) in the winter to give birth to two or three kits by early spring. Egg implantation is delayed; once in place gestation runs 30-40 days.
Threats: While hunting and trapping have threatened the wolverine for 200 years, climate change, loss of habitat, and population fragmentation pose new challenges. With so few animals left over such large areas, the ability to successfully reproduce at sustainable rates is in question. On February 4, 2013, a proposal was officially put forth to list the Wolverine as an Endangered Species.