Wolverine, NPS Photo, S. CassidyWolverine, Chris Peterson PhotoWolverine, NPS photo, Warren Hanson

Wolverines (Gulo gulo) are the largest member of the weasel family and within the Crown of the Continent tend to prefer subalpine fir forests in isolated, remote wilderness with ample spring snow cover. Short, stocky legs with five-toed paws give wolverines the ability to travel easily through snow, and its thick, oily fur is resistant to frost.

With powerful jaws and sharp claws, wolverines are opportunistic predators and scavengers. Scat analyses show that a large portion of a wolverine’s diet consists of large mammals such as deer and elk that are mostly scavenged. In addition, they hunt animals such as ground squirrels, marmots, snowshoe hares, and mice, and will supplement their diet with insect and plant material.

Highly nomadic, wolverines travel great distances in search of food or mates during breeding season. Large ranges and very low population densities are factors influencing the species vulnerability to habitat disturbance, habitat fragmentation, trapping, and climate change.

Researchers have documented more than 50 wolverines in Glacier National Park, showing the densest population of this species in the lower 48 states. Research is currently aimed at assessing population health and trends, as well as developing a genetic database.