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Wolverine Sightings in Mt. Hood National Forest posted on 07/27/2023
By Amber Ford
The Mountain Times

According to wildlife officials and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have been several confirmed sightings of wolverines throughout Oregon and the Mt. Hood National Forest.  Listed on Oregon’s threatened and endangered species list, these sightings bring hope to the species and its potential return to the Mt. Hood National Forest.
According to Tessa Ott, Assistant District Wildlife Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, these recent wolverine sightings are important since the absence of the species has been felt throughout local ecosystems in the Mt. Hood National Forest. “Prior to this sighting, the last confirmed sighting of a wolverine near the Mt. Hood National Forest was a surrendered road-struck wolverine in 1990,” Ott said. “In Oregon, more recently in 2022, a wolverine was photographed in the Wallowa mountains of Northeast Oregon,” Ott added.
Just as bears, mountain lions, elk and deer provide positive movement for ecosystems in the Mt. Hood National Forest, the resurgence of wolverines in the area could also provide lasting benefits as well. “Deep snowpack in spring is a key habitat requirement for denning young [wolverines], as is seasonal snow cover, which facilitates movement and habitat connectivity that is crucial for population success,” Ott said. “This makes the species’ presence on the landscape an important bio-indicator of climate change and other ecosystem level shifts,” Ott added.
Often mistaken for small black bears due to their thick, dark coats, wolverines are carnivorous and their diets can vary depending on season. “They [wolverines] most commonly prey on small to medium animals but can also scavenge on carrion,” Ott said. Although wolverines typically keep to higher elevations, on occasion (such as the most recent sightings near the Mt. Hood National Forest) they have been known to be seen as they migrate to higher elevations. “Even in known populations wolverines are naturally found at very low densities over large areas and consequently they are a rare sighting,” Ott said.  
As sightings may continue throughout Oregon and the Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife acknowledges this special development for wildlife in Oregon.  “It’s interesting that this animal likely crossed a portion of the Columbia River,” Ott said.  “Known populations of wolverines are often isolated, therefore dispersing individuals will temporarily trek into unsuitable habitat in search of new alpine territory. They are also known to travel great distances in a short time, so in that regard it is not unexpected or extraordinary,” Ott added.
For more information on wolverine sightings in or near the Mt. Hood National Forest, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at dfw.state.or.us/wildlife.



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