Wolverines In Oregon


Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Washington, Idaho (here and here) (to be published soon), Wyoming, Nevada, Utah (to be published soon) and Colorado (to be published soon), the Upper Midwest (to be published soon) and New Mexico. There are also three posts on the wolverine in California (to be published soon).

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 Oregon.

Wolverines have now been confirmed be present in the Blue Mountains and in the Wallowas.

Three wolverines have been collected since 1965, one live and two dead (see below).

Aerial surveys in recent years have found discovered what appear to be wolverine tracks, snow tunnels and in a few cases winter dens on the top of high Oregon peaks. No such findings have turned up in California, but no aerial surveys have yet been attempted either. All of this implies that the wolverine is in better shape in Oregon than in California.

The wolverine seems to be in best shape in Washington, then in Oregon, and finally in worst shape in California.

In an undated sighting, wolverine tracks were seen on the Diamond Lakes Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest.

In 1965, a wolverine was shot on Three-Fingered Jack Mountain in the Oregon Cascades. This was the first confirmed report of a wolverine in Oregon since 1912.

Three-Fingered-Jack Mountain in the Oregon Cascades, where a wolverine was shot by a hunter in 1965, the first verified report of a wolverine since 1912. At the time, the wolverine was thought to be extinct in the state.

In Oregon, a wolverine was trapped in 1986 and another was found dead in 1992, but precise locales were not given.

In addition, wolverine tracks were seen at Snow Bunny Snow Park on the Mount Hood National Forest in 1990.

In October 1990, a hunter saw a wolverine at Mill Creek six miles north of Prospect in the Rogue River NF.


Mill Creek Falls north of Prospect, Oregon in the Rogue River Gorge. There was an unverified wolverine sighting on Mill Creek in October 1990. An elk hunter saw one at his camp 6 miles north of Prospect.

There was an incredible finding west of the Dalles at Rowena on the Colombia River in 1990 when a wolverine was The Dalles near Rowena Gorge. It’s hard to believe that wolverines live in such hot and dry terrain, but apparently they do. A wolverine was killed by a car here on Highway 84 in 1990.

In Autumn 1992, a wolverine was seen on Dead Indian Road near Lily Glen.


This is Dead Indian Road in the Umpqua National Forest. There was an unverified wolverine sighting seen here in Autumn 1992 near the Lily Glen Equestrian Area, an historical site that preserves one of the area’s first settlements.


In 1993, a wolverine was spotted during summer on Road 100 in the Rogue River National Forest north or Rancheria Road.

This is a recent photo of the area along Cobleigh Road in Butte Falls, Oregon. In summer 1993, there was an unverified sighting of a wolverine on Road 100 in the Rogue River NF, which is about 6 miles northwest of here. This is in the same general area as the sighting around Prospect, Oregon, in the Rogue River Gorge.

In the 1990’s, possible wolverine sign was detected on the Malheur, Deschutes, Rogue, and Fremont National Forests.

Early March surveys by airplane in 1997-98 ( video of the aerial surveys with awesome footage of a live wolverine and tracks in winter in Washington) found 12 sets of tracks, 2 snow tunnels and one possible wolverine den on the Mount Thielsen Wilderness and two sets of tracks on the Rogue/Umpqua Divide Wilderness, both on the Umpqua National Forest. The elevations in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness were 7,000-7,200 feet.


On March 8, 1997, state and federal biologists found three sets of possible wolverine tracks on 7,000 foot+ ridgelines north of Mt. Thielsen in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness on the Umpqua National Forest. One set of tracks included a possible wolverine den.

On the same day, researchers noted possible wolverine tracks at the head of Devil’s Canyon on nearly Mt. Bailey (8,375 feet). Mt. Thielsen is a 9,182 foot peak. On March 20, 1998, a federal biologist spotted eight sets of possible wolverine tracks and two possible wolverine snow tunnels in this wilderness area.


The spectacular sweeping and dense forests of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. On March 10-11, 1998, state and federal biologists spotted two possible sets of wolverine tracks here.


A spectacular shot of the Boulder Creek Wilderness in Oregon. Photo taken by T.A. Klingenberg. On March 10-11, 1998, surveyors found possible wolverine tracks here.

In 1998 in more March surveys, more tracks were found at 8,000 feet on Mt. McLoughlin and on Devil’s Peak in the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Winema and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, and more were seen in the same year at Fuller Lake in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.


On March 20, 1998, state and federal wildlife biologists spotted possible wolverine tracks at 8,000 feet on the north side of Mt. McLoughlin, shown here. The mountain rises to 9,495 feet. This peak is west of Upper Klamath Lake, north of Mount Shasta in California and south of Crater Lake.


Devil’s Peak (7,300 feet) in the Sky Lakes Wilderness south of Crater Lake National Park. Possible wolverine tracks were seen by an aerial crew here on March 20, 1998. Note the ugly clearcuts in the background. This is why I oppose clearcutting so much. It’s totally devastating to a forest to cut it like that.

There was an unverified sighting of a wolverine on the Umpqua Trail near Roseberg, Oregon in 2001 along the Jessie Wright Trail Segment in the Umpqua National Forest.


The North Umpqua Trail on the Umpqua National Forest. There was an unverified sighting of a wolverine here in 2001 in Jessie Wright segment of the trail in the Boulder Creek Wilderness.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife feels that wolverines occur or are suspected to occur in the following counties: Baker, Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, and Wheeler.


An unnamed lake at the end of an unnamed trail in the Wallowa Mountains in far northeast Oregon. This is definitely a Great Basin Range. Wolverines have recently been proven to exist in the Wallowas. They have been photographed at bait stations.


Strawberry Lake in the Blue Mountains in the Strawberry Lake Wilderness Area. Wolverines have been confirmed to be present in the Blue Mountains. Another Great Basin Range in Eastern Oregon.


Steens Mountain in far Southeast Oregon. There have been unverified wolverine sightings here recently, believe it or not. This is high desert, but note the road-killed wolverine above in similar high desert territory at the Dalles. The area used to be full of lakes and was very lush and productive. Various California Indian tribes like the Miwok, Yokuts and Ohlone probably originated here over 5,000 years ago during the wet weather.

They then moved down the Oregon-California border to Lake Tahoe, where they crossed into the Delta. From there, they probably split to become the Ohlone, Miwok and Yokuts. These three language groups do seem to be related, but the degree of their relatedness is not known. Some say they are all just under Penutian, with no special relationship amongst them.

In 2007, wolverines were seen near Pullman in Northeastern Oregon near the Idaho and Washington border.


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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