Repost from the old site.
The first wolverine detected in California in 86 years, photographed at a camera station at Sagehen Creek near Lake Tahoe on February 28, 2008, has now been shown to be not from either California or Washington.
Scientists located wolverine scat near where the photo was shot and analyzed it for genes. A single gene was sequenced, the wolverine was shown to be a male, and the gene has been reported only from wolverines in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It is also found in southern Canada.
The only conclusion possible is that the wolverine is from the Rocky Mountains and is not a native California wolverine. No one has any idea how it got to California. It’s pretty hard to live-trap these things and transport them unless you are a wildlife biologist.
It doesn’t make much sense that this wolverine cruised down from the Snake River region in Western Idaho along eastern Oregon to the Cascades, then down the Sierras to Tahoe, but according to a recent study, that is exactly what it seems to have done. It seems to have some from the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.
At least they are back in California, but I never thought they left anyway. The Sierra Nevada is their natural home, and I don’t think it matters where this animal came from. They are back, they exist, and we need to keep them around.
As far as how this animal showed up north of Tahoe, that will just have to fall into the category of one of life’s strange mysteries. Captive wolverines have been dumped before – one was plunked down in Iowa in 1960, where a farmer later shot it in a cornfield.
Click the wolverines label at the end of the post to see other posts on wolverines in the US, including many sighting reports and photos.