Mar. 16, 2009 - Researchers at Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) have documented a rare male North American wolverine (Gulo gulo) on SPI's managed forest lands in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The sighting on SPI's forest lands follows a photo of a wolverine taken by a graduate student in 2008 about 15 miles from the SPI location. The endemic wolverine is listed by the State of California as a threatened species and holds special protection status under California law. Until these sightings, the presence of wolverines in the state had not been confirmed since the 1920's.
Using DNA extracted from hair samples collected at photo stations, Dr. Michael Schwartz at the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station concluded the wolverine was the same individual photographed in both locations. It is not a descendent of the last known Southern Sierra Nevada population. Based on analysis of its DNA, it most closely resembles genetic types found throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains.
The wolverine detections were made using movement-operated cameras as part of SPI's ongoing comprehensive wildlife monitoring program. The sightings occurred on the company's forest lands in December and January northwest of Truckee, California. These lands have been privately owned since the 1860's and have produced forest products since the 1930's. The most recent harvest in the area occurred in 2008.
"This is a rare and exciting experience for wildlife experts and forest managers," said SPI biologist Amanda Shufelberger. "Including the wolverine among the 250-plus wildlife species known to inhabit SPI lands is a welcome addition and supports the concept of balancing sustainable production of forest products with the protection of wildlife habitat" noted Shufelberger.
She added that SPI will continue to work cooperatively with the Department of Fish and Game in future forest carnivore surveys.
The North American wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. Adult males weigh 26 to 40 pounds, while females are 17 to 26 pounds. It resembles a small bear, with a bushy tail and broad head. The wolverine's diet includes carrion, small mammals, birds, insects, berries, and fungi.
U.S. populations are found largely in the Northern Cascades in Washington, the Northern Rockies in Montana and Idaho, and in Alaska. Wolverines have large home ranges that vary greatly depending upon gender, age and food availability.
Sierra Pacific Industries is a third-generation family-owned forest products company based in Anderson, California. Sierra Pacific is committed to managing its lands in a responsible and sustainable manner to protect the environment while providing quality wood products for consumers.
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