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Footage shows rare wolverine sighting on Antelope Island

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) biologists feel confident that the footage showing an animal running on Antelope Island State Park is of a rare wolverine sighting.

Last night, photographer James Shook reported to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources that a wolverine had been spotted on the northwest end of Antelope Island near the Bridger Bay Campground. Photos and video were posted to Facebook, and DWR biologists are confident that the footage is of a wolverine.

DWR biologists went to Antelope Island on Wednesday morning to try to either locate the animal or find any possible tracks. However, the ground in that area of Antelope Island is very hard, and no tracks were located.

Wolverines — typically found in high mountain areas — are rare in Utah. Because they are so elusive, it is unclear exactly how many are currently in Utah and whether there is an established population here. A single wolverine can have a home range as large as 350 square miles, and they can travel long distances.

“Wolverines are very rare to see because they are largely nocturnal, and they travel quickly, typically not staying in one area long enough to be found or seen,” DWR Wildlife Conservation Biologist Adam Brewerton said. “We believe this wolverine sighted on Antelope Island is just passing through since Antelope Island does not have suitable habitat. It is always exciting to hear of wolverine sightings in the state and especially when we have video evidence.”

Each year, the DWR receives several reported sightings of wolverines, most commonly from the High Uinta Mountains. Because of their elusive nature, biologists are unable to confirm most of these wolverine sightings. There are remote cameras in potential habitat areas to try to monitor wolverines in the state, as well.

Wolverines typically scavenge carcasses and are known to hunt many different kinds of animals, ranging from squirrels to birds to larger animals in deep snow. They also eat insects as well as plants like roots and fruit. Typically, the main food source for wolverines in the summer is ground squirrels, and in winter, they primarily feed on the carcasses of deer and elk.

Wolverines are not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Although, in Utah, they are protected by state law.

Confirmed wolverine sightings in Utah:

  • June 29, 2016: A female wolverine carcass was located by the Utah Department of Transportation after it was hit and killed by a vehicle about one mile west of Laketown, near Bear Lake in Rich County
  • December 2014: Wolverine tracks were found near Dutch John
  • February 2014: A wolverine was captured in a photo at a camera bait station in the Uinta Mountains
  • 1979: A wolverine was found dead near Vernal

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