Repost from the old site.
Separate posts on this blog deal extensively with wolverines in Oregon, Washington, Idaho (here and here), Wyoming, Nevada, the Upper Midwest and New Mexico. There are also five posts on the wolverine in California.
This post was split off from an earlier post that got too large, California Wolverine Re-discovered After 85 Years. This particular post will deal with the question of wolverines in the states of Utah and Colorado.
Wolverines are present in Colorado on the Pike and White River National Forests and in Utah in the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains and in Sanpete County in central Utah.
The Pike National Forest southwest of Denver, Colorado. This forest is believed to harbor wolverines. The famous Pike’s Peak is located in this forest.
The Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah in Sanpete County. This county in central Utah is believed to harbor a wolverine population. This area is northeast of Fillmore, Utah, which is the sighting nearest to Nevada.
I recently received a report of a good, but unconfirmed, wolverine sighting in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The sighting occurred on August 20, 1989 in the Upper Escalante River Canyon at the junction with Coyote Gulch (map here). The wolverine was in the canyon chasing a beaver near its beaver dam. It also swam across the river.
The sighting was by a man with a Master’s Degree in Ecology from UC Davis. The elevation for the sighting was 4,100 feet, but wolverines are not always found at high elevations.
This is an extremely unusual place to see a wolverine, but they probably used to live here. There are place names such as “Wolverine Bench” on the map in the Escalante Canyon area and wolverines used be found into northern Arizona. If wolverines existed in northern Arizona, clearly they existed in the Glen Canyon area. Wolverines live in very similar habitat in the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.
The Upper Escalante River Canyon is in the Aquarius Plateau, which has 50,000 acres of land above 11,000 feet. That’s clearly wolverine habitat. The junction of Coyote Gulch and the Upper Escalante is a ways away from the Plateau, but it’s likely a dispersing juvenile could be found in the area. A photo of the terrain is here.
There have been sporadic wolverine sightings for decades in Colorado.
A Colorado Department of Wildlife biologist spotted one south of Trapper Lake in Flat Tops Wilderness in the mid-1960’s.
Trapper Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness. Canyon walls tower up to 1,000 feet at this late at the 9,500 foot elevation level. Fishing is very popular in this lake and it is said to be very good.
The Flat Tops is partly in the White River National Forest and partly in the Routt NF. There was another unconfirmed sighting of tracks from the Flat Tops in 2003.
A photo of Vail ski resort and the town of Vail, Colorado as seen from Red Sandstone Road, which goes north of town. A wolverine was seen on this road recently. Click to enlarge.
Recently, there was an unconfirmed wolverine sighting 4-5 miles up Red Sandstone Road in Vail, Colorado on the White River National Forest.
The famous Maroon Bells in the White River National Forest in western Colorado. Aspen and Vail are also located in this forest. I spent a week skiing in Aspen in 1978. Great place! The White National Forest is believed to harbor a wolverine population. Along with Pike NF, these may be the only populations in the state.
There was another unconfirmed sighting of a wolverine chasing a boy on a motorcycle down a road in the Routt National Forest in far northern Colorado some years ago. The Routt is near Steamboat Springs up by the Wyoming border.
There have been multiple unconfirmed wolverine sightings in Rocky Mountain National Park since 2000.
In June 1979, a man watched a wolverine for four minutes as it approached a bear bait he had set near Parshall in Grant County. That area is southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park.
A photo of the Aspen Canyon Ranch in Parshall, Colorado. A wolverine was seen here in 1979. Parshall is not much of a town. It is really just an unincorporated collection of small homes and trailers. There are dude ranches all around here. That may be the Colorado River in the photo, as it runs through town here near its headwaters. Fishing is supposed to be great in the river here.
In June 1978, a couple photographed an adult wolverine with three cubs in the Uncompagre. In the late 1980’s, there was an unconfirmed sighting of a wolverine in the Uncompagre Wilderness on the Uncompagre National Forest. The Uncompagre is in southern Colorado and is located about 20 miles northwest of Telluride.
In March 1979, three biologists with the Colorado Department of Wildlife saw a wolverine near the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery near Rifle, Colorado in Garfield County in western Colorado.
Rifle Mountain Park, 13 miles north and just beyond the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, the largest fish hatchery in Colorado. There is great ice climbing here during the winter and mountain climbing the rest of the year. You don’t even have to worry about rain much because the cliffs catch so much of it and you can always take shelter under one. A wolverine was seen near here in 1979.
Also in March 1979, a man shot a wolverine on Highway 40, 1½ miles west of the Colorado border in Utah near Dinosaur, Colorado.
In June 1978, a man took three photos of a wolverine crossing a snow field on Trinchera Peak (13,513 feet) in the Sangre de Christo Mountains in southern Colorado.
The spectacular Trinchera Peak in the Sangre de Cristos. Bighorns roam on the top slopes of the mountain.
There have also been quite a few sightings in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango and southeast of Wolf Creek Pass.
In July 1977, a man found a wolverine skull in the East Fork of the Cinnamon River Drainage in Gunnison County. The skull was less than 10 years old.
Wolverines have also been spotted, incredibly, near Sterling on the Great Plains in northeastern Colorado, which seems very odd, but looking through all of these reports, it becomes apparent that wolverines in Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota may indeed use prairie habitat.
An incredible photo of a tornado over Sterling, Colorado from a storm-chaser page. Storm-chasers chase tornadoes so they can get pictures of them, or just to watch them. Pretty dangerous sport. Click to enlarge. I think it is quite clear by now that wolverines do use prairie habitat.
Even aboriginally, prairie was thought to be marginal for wolverines, but perhaps that was wrong. Pre-contact, vast herds of buffalo roamed the prairie, and there would be plenty of dead buffalo for the scavenging wolverine to eat.
- 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.
Nead, D. M., Halfpenny, J. C., and Bissell, S. 1984. The Status of Wolverines in Colorado. Northwest Sci.: 58: 286-289.
Predator Conservation Alliance. 2001. Predator Conservation Alliance’s Literature Summary – Draft – January 24, 2001 – Draft Conservation Status and Needs of the Wolverine (Gulo gulo).