Utah DWR records first-ever wolverine capture

RANDOLPH, Utah — After killing and wounding approximately 18 sheep in Rich County, a rare wolverine was captured and released back into the wild near the Uinta Mountains by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

Late last week, a sheepherder near Randolph came across a wolverine that was in the process of killing and wounding his sheep. Upon approaching the animal, the wolverine took off headed west but was spotted by USDA Wildlife Services conducting livestock protection efforts in the area. After noticing the wolverine running through the snow, USDA contacted the DWR in order to handle the situation.

Quickly springing to action, the DWR set multiple barrel traps throughout the area, with dead sheep placed inside in an attempt to lure the animal.

“There was so much activity in the area that morning, I thought the wolverine would be long gone, and we wouldn’t be able to catch it,” DWR Northern Region Wildlife Manager Jim Christensen said.

However, against the odds, the traps worked, and the DWR had successfully recorded the first-ever capture of a wolverine by biologists in Utah.

“It’s amazing to get a chance to see a wolverine in the wild, let alone catch one,” Christensen said. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

After capturing the animal, biologists sedated the wolverine and then drew blood, collected hair samples, and took a series of measurements. They monitored the animal’s heart rate, breathing, and temperature throughout the examination, applying alcohol and ice to its armpits and stomach to keep it cool. They also attached a GPS collar to track and collect data from the animal in the future before releasing it back into the wild near the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains.

“Having a collar on this wolverine will teach us things about wolverines in Utah that would be impossible to learn any other way,” Christensen said. “Four different wolverine sightings were confirmed in Utah in 2021. Were we seeing the same animal or different animals? Having a collar on this animal will help us solve that riddle.”

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