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Features: The Wolverine (Gulo gulo) is about the size of a domestic dog, and is one of the bigger types of weasels with fairly long legs, bear-like paws with claws and a robust body. It has long dark brown fur, ears tipped with grey, and pale golden-brown stripes running along the sides of the body. The Wolverine lives in boreal forest where it is a predator and a scavenger . It has a large head and strong jaws which can crush the bones of caribou, a favourite winter food. Generally solitary, Wolverines have large home ranges which they mark out with musty-smelling scent secreted from glands at the base of their tail.
Status: Threatened Provincially, Special Concern Nationally
Range: The Wolverine is restricted to wilderness areas in northern Asia, northern Europe, and in North America where its range extends from Alaska, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories across to northern Quebec and Labrador. In Ontario, the Wolverine lives in the northern Boreal Forest where their population is estimated to be in the hundreds.
Threats: Historically, the Wolverine range here was more extensive than today. Some of this range contraction is due to logging and other human disturbance in wilderness areas. In winter, Wolverines depend on scavenging caribou carcasses and as these populations decline so does the Wolverine. Population recovery is slowed by the low reproductive rate of the species-- only about half of the females produce young in any year. The Wolverine has been trapped for fur for two centuries in Ontario, and hunting pressure may have contributed to declines here, but there is little direct evidence of this.
Protection: The Wolverine is listed as a threatened species under Ontario's Endangered Species Act, 2007, which protects the species from being killed, captured, and taken in Ontario. The Wolverine is classed as a "fur bearer" under Ontario's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, however trapping and hunting is closed in all areas.
Research is underway to determine the habitat requirements of reproductive females, in particular the availability of suitable den sites, and to determine how wolverines adjust their movements, home ranges, and diet in response to human encroachment. This information is crucial in determining appropriate conservation measures that will ensure adequate habitat for this species. More information on habitat management for wolverine populations is available on the Wolverine Foundation Website.
Text Sources: Slough 2003; Kelsall 1982; Dauphine 1989
Last Modified Date: October 2008
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