Not afraid of the devil and bears – except that the wolverine is now officially endangered in the United States

Not afraid of the devil and bears – except that the wolverine is now officially endangered in the United States

The wolverine (gulo gulo) belongs to the family Mustelidae, a group of carnivorous mammals.Beeld Universal Images Collection via Getty

According to the agency, there are now fewer than 300 specimens of the North American animal remaining in the United States. In 2018, an attempt was made to put the wolverine on the endangered list, but authorities did not find sufficient reason to do so. Scientific views about animals and their safety have now changed to such an extent that taking necessary measures is essential.

Climate change has been threatening the winter landscapes of Alaska and Canada for more than a decade, as wolverines prefer to live as solitary wanderers in the high mountains around the tree line. Authorities say the consequences of a warming climate will only lead to further degradation and fragmentation of the wolverine’s habitat.

By placing the carnivore on the endangered species list, the wolverine is given protected status. Animal protection organizations hope to limit the long-term effects this way.

Not exactly sweet

Things were already tough for wolverines at the beginning of the last century: their population size had been decimated by widespread hunting and poisoning by hunters and predators. This year, one wolverine was seen in the US state of Utah. This was the eighth time since 1979.

The wolverine (gulo gulo) weighs between 15 and 45 kilograms and belongs to the family Mustelidae, a group of carnivorous mammals that also includes weasels, minks, martens and otters. He cannot be called “cute”: the Wolverine is seen as strong, aggressive, territorial and stubborn. There have been sightings of wolves attacking and killing bears twice their size.

It can withstand cold temperatures thanks to its dense coat. With long, curved claws on snowshoe-like feet, it moves easily across snowy areas. Strong and sharp teeth enable the glutton to grind even frozen meat.

Wolverine is also demanding of its space: males defend territories of up to 600 to 1,000 square metres, an area in which about two or three females can possess it. Outside of North America, wolverines are also found in Siberia, northern Russia, and Scandinavia.

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