Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Species Spotlight: Wolverine

August 6, 2009, 1:57 pm

Common residents of Alaska mainland, adult wolverines have no natural predators. However, these creatures tend to be extremely combative when it comes to territory and food. Wolverine–known to take on other animals as big as bears–are widely noted for their ferocious nature.

Description: Wolverines have short legs, large five-toed paws, broad and rounded heads, and small eyes. With their thick, dark and oily hair, wolverines are the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family. These solid and muscular carnivores have been known to resemble small bears. But don’t be fooled by their size—wolverines are notorious for their strength and ability to kill animals much larger than themselves. They are aided in this with their sharp claws, thick hide and powerful jaws.

Characteristics:

Body Length: Adults reach lengths of 25-34 inches. Their tails can be 7-10 inches.

Weight: Adult males weigh between 22-55 pounds, and the larger ones can weigh more than 70 pounds! Female adults are 30 percent lighter than males.

Park Habitat:

Wolverines populate mountains, brushlands and open plains. They are usually found in northern areas, such as the arctic and alpine regions of Alaska and Northern Canada. Few have been found in the Rocky Mountains and northern Cascades. There have also been recent sightings in Sierra, Nevada and Colorado.

Diet:

Despite their strength, wolverines are usually scavengers and feast on the remains of moose, caribou and sheep. They also hunt squirrels, birds, mice, porcupine, reindeer and elk.

Interesting Fact:

This past spring, one wolverine managed to travel through the 500 miles of highways, rugged terrain and state lines, that separate Grand Teton National Park from Colorado. No easy feat, the wolverine took two months, April and May, to make this journey. This marked the first time in 90 years that a wolverine was captured in Colorado.