Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family. They live throughout the Arctic and Sub-Arctic. Wolverines are fearsome animals just like the Honey Badger. They are fearsome as they take on big animals like the moose.
Their body includes a thick, hydrophobic, and oily fur which helps it resist the toughest of conditions. Hence, why it can survive in the harsh conditions of the Artic and Sub-Artic. There are two types of wolverine and i.e., the European Wolverine and the North-American Wolverine. There are about 15,000-30,000 Wolverines in the wild. Their body length is between 32-42 inches and their weight can be up to 70 pounds. Out of all mustelids, only the Sea Otter and the Giant Otter are larger than the Wolverine.
Diet, Habitat, and Behaviour.
Diet: Their diet involves scavenging on the corpses and prey of other animals. Wolverines are opportunistic eaters that feast on anything. They eat smaller prey like porcupines, beavers, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, voles, lemmings and mice to birds, bird eggs. They take on bigger prey like deer and moose if the prey appears to be injured. Plants, berries, and other veggies are just a small portion of their diet and they eat them in Summer.
Habitat: Wolverines need a lot of room and live in different habitats. They can travel for up to 15 miles a day while searching for food. They visit boreal forests, taiga, and tundra in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America.
Behavior: Wolverines are excellent climbers and they rest in the evergreen trees of their homes. Their scavenging nature leads them to steal from hunting lodges. There are cases where they carry off guns, knives, clothes, blankets, cooking utensils, tools, and other items that they would not use.
Like bears, the male Wolverines mark their territories with a scent. Females stay in the den and give birth to 2-3 young in late winter or early spring. The young ones live with their mums until they reach maturity, which is two years.
Females have delayed implantation so the eggs stay around the uterus before they de-attach. The reason is to ensure that there is an abundance of food when the young is born, during January-April. Females produce one litter every 2-3 years.
Threats and Conservation efforts:
Threats: The major threats to Wolverine’s existence are loss/fragmentation of habitat, and hunting. As described earlier, the fur of Wolverines has qualities that help it survive. Poachers/Hunters see the Wolverine fur becomes beneficial and has a value in the market. Hunters also hunt wolverines for sport. These are the reasons their populations are declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) assessment lists the Wolverines as ‘Least Concerning’. The IUCN’s European assessment lists the Wolverine as ‘Vulnerable’ in Europe.
Conservation Efforts: Conservationists have tried to pass legislation that helps preserve the Wolverine populations. There have been efforts to include the Wolverine under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). WCS America has protected Wolverines in the U.S. and they have tried to push legislation that help protect the Wolverine from extinction in the U.S.