KTVZ-TV in SISTERS, Ore. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed on Thursday that a rare, threatened wolverine was seen on video last week crossing U.S. Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass. This was the first confirmed sighting of a wolverine outside the Wallowa Mountains in three decades.
When we asked about reports of a possible wolverine sighting near Hoodoo Ski Area or Suttle Lake, Beth Quillian, a communications coordinator with ODFW in Salem, told NewsChannel 21 that “ODFW did confirm the sighting of a wolverine outside of Sisters last week through a video that was submitted to us.”
She said that the video was shot on Thursday, February 7th, east of Santiam Pass, and made public that same day.
The animal can be seen in the video running down the hillside, throwing up snow and ice as it goes, crossing the two-lane highway, and halting for a split second before continuing on into the woods. Even when a semi-truck was coming close, it was safe.
On the day of the encounter, “ODFW Deschutes District staff confirmed tracks near the video location,” Quillian said.
Quillian Stated That ODFW Has Been Unable To Determine Whether Or Not The Wolverine Was Male Or Female
ODFW and Cascadia Wild, a nonprofit organization performing community science wildlife surveys for Wolverine on Mt. Hood, have received multiple reports of wolverine sightings during the past month.
Two fishermen on the Columbia River’s McGuire Island bank on March 20 were the first to report seeing a wolverine. Over the next few days, further confirmed sightings occurred in Damascus, Oregon City, and Colton.
“While we can’t conclusively identify the wolverine sighted from the Columbia River (by anglers on March 20) to the Cascades as the same individual, biologists believe based on timing, locations of verified sightings, and trajectory of travel that it is likely the same wolverine,” Quillian told NewsChannel 21 via email.
It’s likely that these sightings are of the same individual wolverine, though we can’t prove it,” ODFW said in a later news release, displaying greater caution.
First confirmed report of a wolverine outside the Wallowa Mountains in over 30 years was along the Columbia River last month. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) reports that during this time of year, wolverines frequently engage in long-distance dispersal or “exploratory” excursions, covering more than 30 miles in a single day.
According to ODFW’s assessment of the region, this wolverine is moving to a new location in search of a more favorable environment in which to live and hopefully have offspring. Although wolverines thrive in high-elevation habitats (alpine places with dense snowpacks), young wolverines sometimes travel great distances to find suitable territory.
Wolverine sightings in Oregon are crucial for wildlife preservation efforts because of how rarely they occur there. The first reported sighting of a wolverine beyond the Wallowa Mountains in over 30 years happened along the Columbia River last month.
In 1969, a trapper at Broken Top Mountain shot and killed the last known wolverine in the Central Cascades. Oregon has designated the wolverine as a state-threatened species, making hunting and trapping illegal.
Near Santiam Pass, There Was A Fourth Sighting Of A Wolverine
Three wolverines were spotted in March outside of Portland, the first confirmed sightings in the area in almost 30 years.
Oregon’s LANE County: The wolverine has been spotted in Oregon again. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that the creature was spotted last week crossing Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass.
On the day of the sighting, ODFW Deschutes District employees confirmed locating tracks in the area shown in the video. If this is the same wolverine that was reported outside of Portland, ODFW cannot confirm it.
“Based on timing, locations of the verified sightings, and the trajectory of travel, it is possible that these sightings are of the same individual wolverine, though it cannot be confirmed,” the agency stated in a statement. It is not uncommon for a wolverine to engage in long-distance dispersal or “exploratory” activities during this season.
According to ODFW, this wolverine is likely on its way to a new territory where it can thrive and meet a suitable partner. Wolverines prefer tree- and snow-filled alpine environments, but young will often travel great distances to stake out their own area.
At the end of March, the creature was seen for a third time roaming a wooded area close to Colton. Nina Baurer, a local of Colton, California, filmed what she believes to be a wolverine and later sent the footage to KGW and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Outside of the Wallowa Mountains, wolverines are extremely hard to spot in Oregon. It has been around 30 years since a reported sighting of a wolverine in the Portland region prior to the release of the first images of the animal on McGuire Island. According to Keiter, wolverines are more frequent in Alaska and Canada than in the lower 48 states.