Wolverines In Wyoming

Note: Repost from the old blog.
Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho (here and here), Nevada, Utah and Colorado, the Upper Midwest and New Mexico. There are also four separate posts on the wolverine in California.
This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Re-discovered After 86 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the state of Wyoming. Wolverines in Wyoming do not seem to be in very good shape, but there are increasing sightings in recent years, and a few have been trapped and road-killed. Further, they seem to be expanding their range.
In Wyoming, wolverines are mostly found in the northwest near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, where the population at least appears sustainable, particularly in and around Yellowstone.
However, there was a sighting in the Medicine Bow Mountains in Southeastern Wyoming in 1991.

The Medicine Bow Mountains in Southeast Wyoming. A wolverine was sighted here in 1991.

 
A young wolverine was captured only two miles north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, the state capital, in 1998. Cheyenne is a city of 53,000 people.
 

Cattle grazing in Veeda Vou Park north of Cheyenne. A subadult wolverine was captured just two miles north of Cheyenne in 1998.

 
A wolverine was killed by a car along Highway 30 in 2004 near Fossil Butte National Monument near where Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho all come together.

The view down into Chicken Creek that runs through the heart of the Fossil Buttes National Monument in Southwest Wyoming. Fossil Buttes is on the left. A wolverine was roadkilled here in 2004. Some think that wolverines have their winter range in the lower Basin and Range sagebrush zones. Here the terrain is mostly sagebrush, but aspens grow at higher elevations. Very large numbers of fossilized fish have been found in this area.

 
In March 1998, a wolverine killed several sheep east of Buffalo, which is east of the Bighorn Mountains.

Interstate 90 drops down into the Crazy Woman Basin east of Buffalo, Wyoming. A wolverine killed several sheep here in March 1998 and was spotted by a rancher. This area, the Powder River Basin, is undergoing a huge amount of methane natural gas extraction which is sucking a huge amount of water out of the ground and spraying it on the surface. This is causing homeowners’ wells to go dry. They lose all the value of the home, and the natural gas companies refuse to reimburse them because the homeowners do not own the mineral rights under their land. That’s the way capitalism works in America – the score is Capital-100 Humans-0, and masochistic Americans just can’t get enough abuse.There is also a fear that many area watercourses, such as the Powder River and Crazy Woman Creek, are going to dry up part of the year, endangering many fish endemic to the area.

 
In 1996, a wolverine was accidentally trapped near the town of Horse Creek, east of the Laramie Mountains and northwest of Cheyenne.

The scene near Horse Creek, Wyoming, where a wolverine was accidentally trapped in 1996. Actually, most of this area is drier Basin and Range or almost prairie type habitat, complete with buffalo, “hogback” mountains, and real, live cowboys.

 
There are also sightings from the Wyoming Range in Far Western Wyoming south of Jackson Hole. In 2005, a female wolverine was being monitored in the Salt River Range along the Idaho border. She was also using the Wyoming Mountains.

Cottonwood Creek in the Wyoming Range near Piney, Wyoming. A collared and tagged female wolverine was monitored moving through this range in 2005.

 
The Salt River Range is next to the Wyoming Mountains.

First snow on the Salt River Range in Wyoming. A female wolverine was collared and monitored using this range along the Idaho border in 2005.

 
There was a 1997 sighting from the Bighorn Mountains, a range in North-central Wyoming on the Montana border that extends south to near the town of Sheridan.

I spoke with a man recently here in California who saw and heard a wolverine underneath a cabin where he was staying with his sons at 10,000 feet on Cloud Peak in the Bighorn Mountains near Sheridan, Wyoming. The wolverine was rummaging around under the cabin for hours and later was gnawing up a nearby woodpile. The sighting occurred in 1996.

 
Wolverines also are thought to live in the Tetons and the Gros Ventre Range south of Yellowstone and in the Absaroka Range east of Yellowstone near Cody. Jackson Hole is located in the Gros Ventres.
A couple of wolverines were documented on the Wind River Range about 75 miles southeast of Jackson Hole near Lander in recent surveys.
In general, wolverines in Wyoming are thought to be in poor shape. They seem to be slowly recovering territory and spreading out into new areas. One reason for this may be that the large wolf population in Yellowstone is providing a good source of carrion for wolverines with all of the ungulates that they are killing. Another reason may be much less broad-spectrum predator poisoning in the state in the past few decades.

References

Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Predator Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, and Superior Wilderness Action Network. 2000. Petition for a rule to list the wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act within the contiguous United States. Submitted to the U.S. Dept. of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service on July 11, 2000.
Predator Conservation Alliance. 2001. Predator Conservation Alliance’s Literature Summary – Draft – January 24, 2001 – Draft Conservation Status and Needs of the Wolverine (Gulo gulo).
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16 thoughts on “Wolverines In Wyoming”

  1. I just hiked the Rock Springs Loop at the top of the tram on Teton Mountain and saw a wolverine lying on the rocks. Upon seeing us, he scurried down into a rock pile and wasn’t seen again. Close call…

  2. Spotted what I’m sure was a wolverine about 5 miles west of Evanston Wy just north of the railroad tracks. It was probably actually in Utah.

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