Wolverine in Utah Is Captured and Gets GPS Collar Before Being Released Back Into the Wild

Wolverine is being examined by biologists as the Utah Division of Wildlife Services.
Utah Division of Wildlife Services

Biologists are calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime” event, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) said.

A wolverine is now wandering the Utah mountains with a GPS collar around its neck after it was captured and released back into the wild. 

The capture is being called a “once-in-a-lifetime” event, by biologists at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), according to DWR’s website

The wolverine was first sighted on March 10, when USDA-Wildlife Services conducting livestock protection work was flying over Rich County, Utah, and saw an animal feeding on a dead sheep. Once they got closer, they noticed it was a wolverine.

According to officials, the dead sheep had been one of 18 sheep the wolverine had killed.

A DWR biologist and a trapper from the Utah Department of Agriculture set up three traps using part of a sheep carcass, in hopes of trapping the wolverine.

The day after the traps were set the wolverine was caught.

A remarkable feat since it would be the first wolverine ever captured by biologists in Utah, the DWR wrote on their site. It was also the eighth confirmed wolverine sighting in Utah since 1979.

"It's amazing to get a chance to see a wolverine in the wild, let alone catch one,” DWR Northern Region Wildlife manager Jim Christensen said. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Wildlife officials sedated the animal once it was back at DWR’s Ogden office. During the exam, they were able to determine that the wolverine was between 3-4 years old, weighed about 28 pounds, and was approximately 41 inches long. And, according to Christensen, the wolverine had "good, sharp teeth."

When the sedation wore off, and the GPS collar was placed on the animal's neck, biologists transported the wolverine to the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains and set him free.

The GPS tracker will provide information on when the wolverine travels, the size of its home range, and the type of habitat it uses at different times of the year, the site said.

”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, calling this research "priceless."

Four different wolverine sightings were confirmed in Utah in 2021, he said. 

“Were we seeing the same animal or different animals last year? Christensen asked. "Having a collar on this animal will help us solve that riddle."

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