Wolverines in Washington

Note: Repost.

Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, 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 Washington.

Wolverines have been proven to exist in Washington in the since 2006.

There were also sightings on the Olympic Peninsula and on the Mount Baker National Forest east of Bellingham in the 1990’s.

In addition, there have been sightings of wolverines outside of the Hart’s Pass area of the Okanagan. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that wolverines are thought to exist on the Colville, Gifford, Pinchot, Kanisku, Okanagan, and Wenatchee National Forests based on 33 reports of sighting and tracks from 1985-2000.

The report on the Methow District of the Okanagan National Forest here shows that two wolverines were trapped on the forest in 2005. This is excellent news and is the only report of wolverines being live-trapped anywhere on Earth, or possibly ever. This is in far Northern Washington near the British Colombian border is That location is in the Northern Cascades.

Although most reports indicate that wolverines are dire shape in Washington, the truth is that they are probably not in in immediate danger of going extinct, at least up in the far north of the Okanagan, where the wolverines are probably drifting down from British Colombia.

In 2005, fur was collected south of Danville on the Okanagan.

In 2005, wolverine fur was collected just south of Danville in the Kettle Range in Northeastern Washington. This area is just south of British Colombia.

In the same year, another camera detected a wolverine on the northeast slope of Mt. Adams on the Yakima Indian Reservation. This is also in the Cascades, but is in southern Washington.

The northeast slope of Mount Adams in the middle of winter. A wolverine was detected here with a camera in 2006. There are many avalanches here. Within the area shown by this photo, there were several avalanche and mountain climber rescues in recent years.

One theory is that wolverines evolved in glaciated regions and then adapted to the receding glaciers. As the glaciers receded, they left behind huge rock fields called glacial moraine. In the steeper areas, there were probably many rock slides as the glaciers receded. These rock slides probably killed many animals, including large animals.

The theory is that the wolverine, with its frost-resistant fur and frenetic lifestyle capable of traversing the most formidable territory, evolved to scavenge the dead animals killed as the glaciers receded. They are now found in the areas that most closely resemble the glaciated environment in which they evolved.

In 2006, a camera station detected a wolverine in the Napeequa River Valley in the Glacier Peak Wilderness to the south of Hart’s Pass on the Wenatchee National Forest.

The Napeequa River Valley in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The valley has been compared to Shangri-La. The trail to the valley is now damaged and overgrown in spots, but you can still get there. The valley floor is about 4,200 feet. A wolverine was detected at a camera station here in 2006.

In addition, wolverines have been photographed on the Wenatchee National Forest and on the Yakima Indian Reservation in 2006.


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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