I’ve learned a lot about wolverines in the last few weeks and want to share some of the what, why, and ‘that’s cool’ part of my adventure. About 15 months ago, a family friend killed an elk in Lewis and Clark County and trained a trail-cam on the gut pile to see which scavengers might visit. One of the animals photographed was a wolverine.
I recently found myself sitting next to someone who knew Kalon Baughan, who specializes in monitoring wolverines. If I sent her the picture, she’d share it with Kalon and—maybe—the animal could be identified.
It turns out this critter was indeed known: the animal that was photographed is nicknamed M6. At the time, he was likely the second oldest wild male wolverine known in the Northern Rockies (the oldest one was in the Jackson, Wyoming area). Similar to human fingerprints, wolverines are identified by their light fur markings on their neck and chest—and the photo my friend took showed enough distinct markings to confirm identification.
M6 was first found in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in 2010. He has since been photographed numerous times. The trail-cam picture captured in late 2016 is the last photo taken of him that I’m aware.
Although M6 was still wandering around Montana in 2016, we don’t know if he still survives. If M6 was one year old when he was photographed in 2010, he would be a minimum of nine years old in February 2018.
Learning about M6 piqued my interest about the natural history of these animals. Just to give you a sample of what I learned:
To learn more about wolverines use:
My adventure learning about wolverines reminds me how little we know about many wildlife species. It also made me appreciate how legal uses of a remote camera can produce important information for biologists (for more information on the illegal uses of a remote camera, visit 87-6-401 (1)(d) MCA)!
I’ll let you know if any newer photos show up of M6.
Post written by Janet Ellis, Senior Director of Policy, Montana Audubon. TOP: Photo of M6 by Kalon Bayghan.