Monday, 24 October 2011

Island wolverine 'may still be around' (via Chad Arment)

Somewhere in the mountainous wilds of Vancouver Island there may be a few remaining wolverines belonging to a unique sub-species, a leading wildlife biologist believes.

Officially, the gulo gulo Vancouverensis - defined as the gluttonous glutton wolverine from Vancouver Island - almost disappeared in the 1960s and the last known sighting was in 1992, leading scientists to believe the species had been extirpated from the Island.

"But there may still be some around," said Montanabased Doug Chadwick, a National Geographic explorer and author of The Wolverine Way, who, hosted by the Sierra Club of B.C, was due to give a talk and slideshow Tuesday night at Fernwood Community Association.

Chadwick knows how elusive wolverines can be, despite their ferocious reputation, which is why no one knows how many remain in the U.S and Canada. For decades the animals were trapped, poisoned and shot without governments keeping count and now it is believed wolverines could be endangered.
It is not even known whether the Vancouver Island group is a true sub-species, said Chadwick, who is hoping someone has a few pelts stuffed away in their basement which could provide enough DNA for testing.

"Today we would be able to do genetic testing to give a much surer sense of the difference," he said.
After studying wolverines in Glacier National Park, Montana, where the animals often cross the border to B.C.'s Flathead River Valley, Chadwick is convinced that much of their fearsome reputation is a bad rap. "They are seen as Tasmanian devils on crack. They are if you corner them or are competing for a carcass," he said.

Although wolverines will take on grizzly bears or wolves, there is no record of attacks on humans, he said. But, there is no doubt wolverines have a bad-ass attitude, Chadwick said. "They are designed to intimidate so they can compete with grizzly bears," he said.

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By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist

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