Lonely Wolverine Seeks West Coast Mate
A wolverine has made his home in Tahoe National Forest in California for the first time in about 90 years. But Buddy, as researchers have named him, is still the only one of his kind in the area.
Amanda Shufelberger, a wildlife biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries, has been studying Buddy for the past three winters. She said Buddy's DNA closely matches other wolverines located in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, yet no one knows why he's in California now.
He Just Appeared
"That's probably the most interesting part of the story: We know where he came from, but we just don't know how he got here," Shufelberger said. She said they can't figure out whether Buddy hitched a ride with humans or wandered from Idaho alone — or if he's been in California the whole time.
Shufelberger said she has been able to track Buddy through a motion-detector camera near bait stations she sets up.
Historically, wolverines lived in the Sierra Nevada and northwestern California. Wolverines went into decline when people started tracking them for fur.
Real-life wolverines don't look like the X-Men comic strip character or the University of Michigan mascot. They're one of the largest members of the weasel family, but they look like a small bear cub, according to Shufelberger. She said that, while they're reputed to be vicious, they're actually quite reclusive.
The Loneliest Number
"Right now, we're approaching the breeding season, so I think he might be feeling a little lonely," Shufelberger said. "But I just say he enjoys being the consummate bachelor."
Shufelberger said she last saw Buddy three weeks ago marking his territory, digging in the snow and eating.
But still, it seems there's no Betty for Buddy.
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