State officials are considering bringing wolverines back to the Colorado wilderness. The once native “mountain devil” has been unseen in Colorado since 2009. The idea of reintroducing the species to the area has been floating around for more than a decade, but hesitation around its federal conservation status has hindered wildlife officials from taking action. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is set to vote on whether the species should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Though they were once native to the region, wolverines were nearly wiped out completely from the lower 48 states in the early 1900s. Experts believe there are currently only about 300 wolverines across the country, most of them living in Montana. However, it’s due to robust populations in the thousands in Canada and Alaska that the species hasn’t been listed as endangered yet.
Brush up on your wolverine knowledge:
- Wolverines are a type of weasel that look like a cross between a small bear and a badger. They are known for being able to face down predators twice their size!
- They are primarily carrion scavengers, feeding on already dead animals, but will kill rabbits, rodents, and even livestock.
- Some common nicknames include “skunk bears” or “mountain devils”
- Wolverines require high-altitude dens in snowy mountains. Sadly, experts believe wolverines will lose 30% of their habitat in the lower U.S. over the next 30 years due to climate change.
- The last wolverine seen in Colorado was spotted in 2009, but before that, one hadn’t been seen since 1919!
- Wolverines are solitary animals that are typically only spotted together for mating purposes.
- Wolverines can easily wander up to 15 miles in a day.