Green Room

Seattle Times: Wolverines are actually making a comeback

posted at 3:51 pm on February 1, 2013 by

No kidding?  And here I thought the dreaded Soviet North Korean Chinese Global Warming was coming to get them:

Once shot on sight, trapped and poisoned as vermin, wolverines were extinct in Washington by the 1930s. But they are making a comeback, repopulating portions of their historic home range for the first time in decades. And they soon may be proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolverines used to range along the Cascade Crest from the Canadian border all the way to Mount Rainier, but now remain exceedingly rare, with perhaps just 25 animals in Washington, and only about 250 to 300 in the Lower 48.

The wolverine’s return to Washington is amazing scientists. “We are witnessing what we think is the expansion of wolverine into their former range,” said Keith Aubry, research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station in Olympia. Aubry for eight winters had led the first-ever radio-tracking study of wolverines in Washington.

Genetic testing shows the animals they are finding can be traced to populations in Canada that recolonized here once the persecution stopped. Now, those animals, once just visitors, have established resident populations — and they are spreading. “We have growing evidence of them using larger and larger areas over time,” Aubry said.

So how exactly has global warming slowed them down?

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