The largest member of the weasel family, the wolverine is well suited for life in Oregon's forests.
|Size:||25-34 inches long with a 7-10 inch tail; 2-55 lbs
|Habitat:||open forests and alpine areas
|Status:||considered threatened in Oregon and a candidate for federal protection
The wolverine is the largest member of the weasel family. However, due to its distinct build it is often said to resemble a small bear more than weasel. Wolverines are generally the size of a medium sized dog, between 30-55 pounds, with males up to 30% larger than females. A stocky animal, wolverines are known to be strong for their size, some reports say they have fought bears over food, with varying results. They have thick, dark coats that are resistant to frost due to their natural oils. Some have a distinct silver facemask and stripes running from their shoulders to their rump along their sides. Their distinct and hearty coat made wolverines a popular target for trappers.
Wolverines are solitary animals. Males often have a home range spanning nearly 240 square miles. Females have much smaller ranges and there are usually several within a male’s range. Males are known to travel up to fifteen miles a day in search of food and usually try to avoid overlapping with other males’ ranges. While the wolverine is omnivorous, they prefer to eat medium-sized rodents or carrion left by wolves and bears. Known for their ferocity, wolverines have been known to fight with bears for food and even attack moose that are stuck in the snow.
Learn about Oregon Wild's efforts to protect the forests and wilderness that support wolverine populations!
In Oregon, prime habitat for wolverines exists along the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range and in the northeastern part of the state. In early 2011, research biologists found wolverine tracks in Wallowa County. These were quickly followed up with photos taken of two different wolverines with remote cameras. This find confirms numerous reports that until now had no hard evidence. It was believed that the wolverine had been extirpated from Oregon in 1935 but sightings have been reported as recently as 1992. Scientists hope that further studies will reveal a reproducing population in an area of Oregon that provides prime habitat.
Why do they need our help?
Wolverines are rare in Oregon and much of the United States, with their highest densities found in Canada. They prefer open forests and alpine areas and tend to avoid clearcut areas and the young, dense forests that grow up after that. The wide range of the wolverine makes them highly susceptible to encroachment and habitat fragmentation as well. While the wolverine ceased to be considered a game animal in Oregon in 1973 and they have no natural predators, they are very susceptible to habitat loss. The wolverine has been considered threatened in Oregon since 1975 and became a candidate for federal protection in 2010.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wild life service, the North American wolverine potentially occurs in these Oregon counties:
Baker, Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Multnomah, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Wheeler
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