It's nothing to do with the X-Men movie franchise! It's actually another good news story of wildlife recovery.
Mount Rainier National Park, a 369 square mile Washington state reserve southeast of Seattle, surrounds glacier-capped, Mount Rainier. Now, for the first time in a century, the super-rare wolverine - spotted by camera stations dotted around the wilderness - has established residence in the park.
Their discovery is good news for wildlife management within the park, and for the ecosystem surrounding it. “It’s really, really exciting,” said Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “It tells us something about the condition of the park - that when we have such large-ranging carnivores present on the landscape that we’re doing a good job of managing our wilderness.”
“Many species that live at high elevation in the Pacific Northwest, such as the wolverine, are of particular conservation concern due to their unique evolutionary histories and their sensitivity to climate change,” said Dr. Jocelyn Akins of the Cascades Carnivore Project. “They serve as indicators of future changes that will eventually affect more tolerant species and, as such, make good models for conservation in a changing world.”
The wolverine is the largest member of the mustelidae, or weasel family. A cold weather expert, they have small ears, a short snout, and large paws that allow them to run in the snow without sinking into drifts. Their scientific name is gulo gulo, Latin for ‘the Glutton’, as they will eat just about anything dead and actively hunt animals much larger than them like deer, and even predators like lynx.
They have a ferocious reputation as an animal that will try and defend their kills even from bears or wolves.