December 10, 2011 – Source: The Globe & Mail
Ecologist Jason Fisher has spent the past 6 years studying wolverines in the Alberta foothills. Hudson’s Bay Company records show that a substantial number were killed during the halcyon days of the fur trade. The repeating rifles and steel jaw traps during the 1960s and 1970s turned the animals’ greatest strength (supreme ability to locate scraps of meat scattered about a landscape) into a liability. Surviving populations are in the northern tundra and along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Wolverines are being steadily pushed back in Ontario. People don’t know much about the animal since they are difficult to find. They have the gift of a marathoner, speed of a sprinter and the mountain-climbing ability of a goat. Chasing one in the wilderness is close to impossible. Research has increased exponentially aided by log cabin traps, DNA hair-snagging, GPS implants, aerial surveying and remote camera placements. The portrait is one of a fearless and highly intelligent animal. They tick at a higher metabolic rate than other animals, keep on the move both day and night whether raiding eggs, eating ripe berries or taking down sheep. One travelled 800 km and visited 3 American states in 10 days. Another climbed the near-vertical face of Mount Cleveland. One has taken down a full-grown moose. Some researchers say they are the toughest animal in the world.