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Wild Wolverines in Tahoe National Forest
March 25, 2008 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Ferocious-looking mystery creature in Tahoe National Forest confirmed to be a California wolverine, thought to be extinct since 1922. A motion-detecting camera snapped a compelling photo behind the beast last month, and the California Department of Fish and Game just confirmed the discovery with a clear profile shot. Notably, both photos appear to show the same animal.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (53 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
OH SNIKT
posted by cortex at 9:08 AM on March 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Heh... close the thread!
posted by BobFrapples at 9:10 AM on March 25, 2008


Awww. Cutie widdle wolverine!
posted by dammitjim at 9:16 AM on March 25, 2008


Ha - Axel is the wolverine I thought of first.

Thanks for posting this - I'd love to think that there's wolverines lurking around where I vacation now and then. Though I'm not sure I'd want to meet one in person.
posted by moonmilk at 9:17 AM on March 25, 2008


We had a wolverine sighting here in lower michigan a couple of years ago... the speculation was that it had accidently been picked up in a load of canadian garbage and dumped at a local landfill.

darn canadians!
posted by HuronBob at 9:18 AM on March 25, 2008


Metafilter: trained to detect wolverine scat.

Quick. Kill it! Kill it!
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2008


I like that picture of the hair snare. Any scientific instrument that is essentially a raw chicken lashed to the end of a stick is cool by me.
posted by mumkin at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, Americans should pause for a brief moment of silence while we honor this ferocious species. They, along with Patrick Swayze, saved us from certain doom after the Russians and Cubans invaded us in WWIII. WOLVERINES!
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:23 AM on March 25, 2008


Any scientific instrument that is essentially a raw chicken lashed to the end of a stick is cool by me.

They should have tried raw coelacanth. Who knows what else that would draw out of the woods.
posted by cashman at 9:29 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cameras and "hair snares," which capture animal hair, were rigged and all suspicious-looking animal deposits were scooped up. Dogs trained to detect wolverine scat were unleashed in the forest by the Center of Conservation Biology in Washington. Airplanes even flew overhead in an attempt to pick up signals from wolverines surgically fitted with radio transmitters during studies in Montana.

I know it's a little bit of a stretch, but if a previously-thought-to-be-extinct animal suddenly seems to be alive, my first instinct isn't to flood its habitat with researchers, dogs, and possibly airplanes.
posted by crazy finger at 9:34 AM on March 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


OK. So this "Ferocious" beast is the model for one of the X-Men? Puleeze. Why not just call him the "Rabid Racoon"?

Seriously. If no one has seen one since 1922 are the assuming a miracle birth or did this guy migrate from another more populated area?
posted by Gungho at 9:35 AM on March 25, 2008


No one ever thought the wolverine was extinct: it's still alive and well in many places (in Canada, in Alaska, Russia, Norway, Finland, and according to the first link, Montana, Idaho and central Washington state). What was thought was that one of those places was no longer California.
posted by ornate insect at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2008


I love this description of the wolverine's range: Wolverines were once fairly common throughout the northern regions of the United States, but they are now found mainly in the Northern Cascades in Washington, the Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho, and in Alaska.

Do you think they might also be found in that area between Northern Idaho and Alaska? I just can't remember what they call that place.
posted by ssg at 9:42 AM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Any scientific instrument that is essentially a raw chicken lashed to the end of a stick is cool by me.

I did an internship with the forest service one year during college. One of our "scientific instruments" was a rotten log with fish guts and cow blood poured over it, surrounded by a low ring of barbed wire. That was a "hair snare" for grizzly bears. They'd have to either squirm under or climb over the wire to get to the yummy bait (which smelled GODAWFUL), hopefully catching a few hairs in the barbed wire in the process.

Another hair snare we set up was a square of carpet with nails pushed through from the back, that was smeared with catnip mixed with fish guts and then nailed to a tree. We'd hang a cheapo metal pie plate from a nearby low branch to spin in the wind, to catch the curious eye of a cat that might be too far away to smell the bait. Those were hair snares for lynx. Like housecats, they would rub the sides of their faces on the carpet bits, hopefully leaving hairs for us to collect.

Every couple weeks we would visit each site to see if any hair had been caught on the barbed wire or nails, then bag it up and send it off for analysis. I think we usually caught black bears and bobcats, which were considered way less exciting than griz and lynx, at least in that neck of the woods.
posted by vytae at 9:44 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do we really need these things around now that the Soviets are no longer a threat?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


They just confirmed Mountain Lions in Kansas again...from one that was shot by a local. Too bad one had to be killed to prove that they do exist. Good Luck to that Wolverine staying alive now.
posted by brneyedgrl at 9:47 AM on March 25, 2008


How do they know there are mountain lions beside the one they shot?
posted by biffa at 9:52 AM on March 25, 2008


I did a happy dance when I read this.

And yeah, it wasn't thought to be extinct (none left anywhere), but rather extirpated (none left locally, e.g. California).

I'd like the California grizzly back next, please.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait so is this a California Wolverine that had thought to have been extinct since 1922? Or is this a wolverine in California, a place which has apparently been devoid of wolverines since 1922?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:00 AM on March 25, 2008


"I love zi Wolverine. Only other animal who kills for pleasure" -Francesca Fiore
posted by munchingzombie at 10:13 AM on March 25, 2008


A wolverine will seriously fuck you up.

Or so I heard from a guy.
posted by kbanas at 10:17 AM on March 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


zomgomgomg WELCOME BACK LOGAN!!! *runs to pet long lost critter, is promptly hollered at by her handlers*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:19 AM on March 25, 2008


With the discovery of this highly endangered animal, I think I speak for all of us, when I say: "How does it taste?"
posted by blue_beetle at 10:19 AM on March 25, 2008


Jesus Christ, it's a wolverine! Get in the car!

** goes to register www.lolwolverines.com ***
posted by grabbingsand at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2008


Tina Fey can kick the ass of even the most ferocious wolverine.
posted by bondcliff at 10:36 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For those wondering, the articles do note that, from museum specimens, the previous California population is known to have been genetically distinct from other North American populations. The goal now is to get genetic material from this current wolverine (hopefully without shooting it dead) to determine whether it has the same genetic markers. Otherwise, they'll be able to conclude that it's a migrant from another wild population or an escapee from a local, captive collection.

Next up, the California Sasquatch?
posted by kowalski at 10:41 AM on March 25, 2008


I'd like to state for the record that it's fine by me if Grizzly Bears aren't reintroduced to California even if they ARE on our flag. They really have a nasty rep.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2008


A nasty Rep? Yeah, California has had a few of them, but you guys really have a nasty Governor.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 10:47 AM on March 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Looks like Paul Giamatti.
posted by Dizzy at 10:47 AM on March 25, 2008


These wolverines actually look pretty tough... unlike their Michigan cousins.

GO BUCKS!

Mastercheddaar
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:47 AM on March 25, 2008


These wolverines actually look pretty tough... unlike their Michigan cousins.

GO BUCKS!

Mastercheddaar


I hope Tyrelle Pryor chokes on a pretzel.
posted by kbanas at 10:53 AM on March 25, 2008


Actually people have been reporting Mountain Lions in Kansas for many years, my husband saw one on the way home from work run across the road in front of him a couple of years ago...the opinion is that the Wildlife people didn't want to do the paperwork.
posted by brneyedgrl at 10:55 AM on March 25, 2008


Next up, the California Sasquatch?

I think we must consider the possibility that this wolverine was, in fact, Bigfoot's lost pet.
posted by Tube at 10:57 AM on March 25, 2008


I can has yr cat (and dog, and hamster, and guinea pig, and ..... )
posted by blucevalo at 10:58 AM on March 25, 2008


Nice to see. Fairly important little guy. Ecologically speaking. In general they’re just plan fun to hear...er, from a distance.... when they’re angry. Just balls out rage “gggnnendgrddnngRRRNGGNGNRR!!!!!” it’s almost funny how psychotically angry they get with the least provocation... Almost. Y’d think they’d be extinct from high blood pressure and heart attacks alone.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:15 AM on March 25, 2008


Yes kbanas, a wolverine will seriously fuck you up. That's what it's designed to do.

That being said, the Profile shot is from "Cuddle Back"???
Cuddle is not what it's designed to do, unless your devinition of cuddle includes massive trauma from a bundle of teeth and claws wrapped in a furry, pissed-off attitude.
posted by djrock3k at 11:37 AM on March 25, 2008


... or definition...
posted by djrock3k at 11:38 AM on March 25, 2008


Did they ever find out what this thing was?
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2008


This is so awesome! The biologist I work with had heard about this, and has been on pins and needles for a while waiting for it to be confirmed! I hope it's the California variant wolverine, and not simply misplaced from somewhere else.
posted by gofargogo at 11:56 AM on March 25, 2008


OK. So this "Ferocious" beast is the model for one of the X-Men? Puleeze. Why not just call him the "Rabid Racoon"?

Well, because the wolverine is, besides the polar bear, one of the only animals to actively hunt humans. They are ridiculously strong for their size and like to hold grudges. It has been known to take down fully grown moose, and if you've ever been near one of those, you know how amazing that is. Here's a video of a wolverine facing off a bear for a fresh kill.

See, the whole point of the character is that he's short and tough.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2008


Plus, wolverines are the only mammals that are known to be kidnapped by shadow agencies and have adamantium grafted onto their skeletons as part of a secret project the memories of which will later be wiped, but imperfectly, from their fuzzy little bastard brains.
posted by cortex at 12:09 PM on March 25, 2008


[NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] wrote: Did they ever find out what this thing was?

From the article: "In the end, wildlife officials got a DNA analysis that showed the animal was a rare wolf-dog hybrid, he said."
posted by LeeJay at 12:15 PM on March 25, 2008


Oops, you know what, I think they were referring to an older case there. So I guess the answer is no, they did not figure out what this thing was.
posted by LeeJay at 12:16 PM on March 25, 2008


I love stories like this. Here in Missouri there have been numerous mountain lion sightings for the last few years and a few dead ones, hit by trains or cars. The official story is that they are escaped pets, I dunno. And of course a gray wolf was killed in western Mass recently.
posted by LarryC at 12:16 PM on March 25, 2008


That being said, the Profile shot is from "Cuddle Back"???

djrock3k: I thought that too, on first sight, but nay. It's Cuddeback, makers of "digital scouting cameras" for monitoring wildlife exactly like this. Can't seem to reach their site at the moment, though.
posted by mumkin at 12:36 PM on March 25, 2008


Tina Fey can kick the ass of even the most ferocious wolverine.

Obviously. One of the job requirements to be head writer at SNL has always been experience with wolverines.
posted by wendell at 1:01 PM on March 25, 2008


I remember watching a nature show about wolverines. It was pretty much 45 minutes of rage. Wolverines are what Oscar the Grouch would be like if he got old, flipped out, and ran off into the wilds. Oh, and tied butcher knives to his fingertips.
posted by Atreides at 3:48 PM on March 25, 2008


Wolverine: I’m sorry Smokey, you’re over the line.
Bear: Yeah, but I wasn't--
Wolverine: Smokey my friend, you come near that carcass, you're entering a world of pain.
Bear: Look Dude, I ... is this your kill --
Wolverine: HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY? AM I THE ONLY ONE HERE WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE RULES HERE?
Bear: All right! I’m backing off. You happy, you crazy fuck? I’ll go get some honey or something.
Wolverine: It's a league deer, Smokey
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Plus, wolverines are the only mammals that are known to be kidnapped by shadow agencies and have adamantium grafted onto their skeletons as part of a secret project the memories of which will later be wiped, but imperfectly, from their fuzzy little bastard brains.

The only ones that survived, you mean. Allegedly.
posted by misha at 4:40 PM on March 25, 2008


They kept trying to attack my cousins, what the heck would you do in a situation like that?
posted by spock at 6:01 PM on March 25, 2008




Awesome.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:02 AM on March 26, 2008




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