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Wolverines Seen at Mount Rainier for the First Time in a Century

What is a wolverine? Where does it live? Why did they go missing?


I want to tell you about a cool type of animal you may not have heard of. The animal you see in this picture is called a wolverine. Wolverines have very thick, brown fur, which keeps them warm in cold weather climates. These animals have other things that help them stay alive and healthy in the North. Let’s read and learn more facts about these exciting animals!


Wolverines need to have warm fur because of the climate they live in. Most of them live in cold places such as Northern Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, and a part of Russia called Siberia. These places can be very cold, getting as low as 0 degrees. That’s cold enough for water to freeze into ice. Without thick fur wolverines, and other animals that live in these places, would not be able to stay for very long. It would be too cold for them and the animals they hunt for food.

Wolverines once lived in more parts of the western U.S. and even in some eastern states. But, in the 1700s and 1800s, hunters began to hunt and kill as many of these animals as they could find. They did this because they wanted to use their fur to make warm winter coats for themselves and others. You just read wolverines have thick and warm fur. This means their fur could be used to keep these hunters warm in the winter too.


Wolverines have more than just the fur you see on the outside. Here is a new picture of a wolverine. Can you see anything strange about this new picture? It is unlike any of the other pictures you see. The picture shows you what a wolverine skeleton looks like. The skeleton is made up of strong bones that help the animal run and hunt. We have skeletons too. Look at how many bones they have! I wonder who has more bones, us, or wolverines?


Many people think wolverines look like small brown bears. But they are a different type of animal known as a mustelid — MUSS-teh-lid. This means they are related to weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, and other mustelids. Wolverines are about as big as a medium-sized dog and weigh about 20 to 55 pounds.

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You read and looked at pictures that show they have a lot of thick fur to keep them warm in cold climates. But did you know their fur isn’t just thick to keep them warm? Their fur is also waterproof. That means even in the wet snow they can stay dry. Staying dry is important when you live in cold climates with a lot of snow. When you live in snow you need to be able to stay dry so you can stay warm.


Wolverines also have sharp claws, and they can crush bones with their sharp teeth and strong jaws. Wolverines are known to be fierce hunters. That means it will follow other animals and kills them for their food. They have been known to kill moose, sheep, elk, and other huge animals. They have a great sense of smell they can find a dead animal covered in 20 feet of snow! That helps them find food even when it is snowing in the middle of winter.

For the last century, there have been hardly any wolverines in the U.S. at all. A century is 100 years! Lucky for us they have been making a comeback! In 2020, a mother wolverine and her two babies, called kits, were spotted in the state of Washington. They were seen in a large national park called Mount Rainier National Park.

This was the first wolverine sighting in that part of the U.S. in over 100 years. Experts hope this is a sign that wolverines may be returning to the areas in the U.S. they once called home. They believe this could mean conservation efforts are working and the wolverine population in the U.S. is on the rise.

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