The wolverine seen last Monday, 20 March 2023, along the Columbia River near Portland made two more appearances: one on Wednesday, 22 March 2023, in Damascus and another over the weekend in Beavercreek.
Cascadia Wild’s wolverine tracking project coordinator, Teri Lysak, said the sightings had surprised wildlife experts, partly because there are so few wolverines. Cascadia Wild is based in Portland. There are only about 300 to 1,000 wolverines left in the U.S.
The group’s first confirmed sighting of a wolverine was last Monday in Oregon. The tracking project began in 2003. Lysak said that the wolverine is likely a young adult who just moved out and is looking for a place that isn’t as crowded as Portland. This is called dispersing.
Wolverine trackers think the same animal was seen over the weekend near Beavercreek, about 13 miles south of Damascus.
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Wolverines don’t usually live in Oregon because they like big, open spaces and colder weather up north. Since wolverines are scavengers, the snow acts as a kind of ice chest for their food, Lysak said. It helps keep their food source cool.
She said that this wolverine’s journey south is not the norm.
“It’s very unusual that it’s at such a low elevation, out of its usually considered habitat,” Lysak said.
When wolverines were hard to find in Oregon, the project was expanded to track other rare carnivores and animals, like birds, in the Mount Hood National Forest. A lot of the early stories about wolverines turned out to be false.
The team kept the word “wolverine” in the name because it was likely that, over time, recovering populations in Washington and Idaho would move into Oregon.
Lysak said, “Every year we say, ‘Maybe this will be the year we find a wolverine.'” “So, it’s a lot of fun.”
People are told by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife not to get too close to wolverines in the wild. If you see one of these rare animals, you can tell the department about it through the website iNaturalist.
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