A wolverine was spotted near The Front in Harrison Hot Springs on Thursday, April 25. (Harrison Hot Springs News and VIews/Facebook)

Harrison wolverine sighting ‘exciting’ for biologist

Wolverines have huge territories and seeing them near human settlement is not very common

Harrison Hot Spring residents were greeted by an unusual visitor early Thursday morning (April 25), when a wolverine was spotted around The Front grocery store on Hot Springs Road.

An image of the wolverine circulated through a number of local Facebook groups, with residents warning each other to keep an eye on their pets and even their children.

Although some posted comments with a degree of fear, others gave the animal exactly what wolverine researcher and PhD student Mirjam Barrueto believes it deserves: respect.

“It’s something to be excited about,” she said, “because there’s so few in that area,” with maybe 10 animals in the entire north Cascade mountains.

In the past, their range stretched across the mountainous areas of Canada, going all the way down the Cascades Mountains in the States.

After years of hunting, the wolverines became numbered and their range reduced. It’s only now that wolverines are rebounding in the Garibaldi Mountains the the American Cascades Mountains.

According to Barrueto, those two ranges are likely where Harrison’s visitor came from.

RELATED: The secret lives of B.C.’s wolverines

“Your area is kind of a pinch point where animals can go from the Canadian coastal population that’s probably pretty healthy to the north Cascades population that’s really small,” she said.

“My guess would be, and that’s a total guess, is that what people saw in the backyard was probably a dispersing young male … that’s either going south or north, trying to find a place for his own territory.

She also said it was possible it was a young female doing the same thing, although that seems less likely because females are much more shy and don’t generally move across highways.

Although wolverines are small, maybe about the size of a medium-sized dog, they have territories as large as grizzly bears and patrol them each day.

“You can always only have one female in one home range,” Barrueto said. “That makes them really rare, even under the best circumstances.”

“They are also pretty sensitive with human disturbances,” she added. “When there’s too much they usually tend to abandon an area … because their needs are really at odds with our ways of using the land.”

Because of this, wolverines aren’t usually spotted in populated areas, and it’s possible one won’t be seen again in Harrison any time soon. But in case a wolverine does saunter past the Front grocery store this spring, Barrueto said the best approach is to treat it the way you would treat any other wild animal.

“They have a really big reputation because whenever they’re trapped or try to defend themselves, they make really bad noises,” she said. “I would treat them with respect … not necessarily fear, because there hasn’t really ever been attacks of wolverines on people.”

“If you surprise the wolverine, you would want to give it a lot of space,” she added. “Don’t feed it, don’t corner it, and chances are it’s going to be gone in a few minutes and you’ll never see it again.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

White Rock Renegades ‘04 named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

South Surrey woman promotes exercise to help fight Parkinson’s disease

‘This keeps me strong’ says Liz Holroyd Campbell, organizer of the 2019 Parkinson Superwalk

PHOTOS: Supercars parade to White Rock

More than a dozen cars were on display for the Drive Project

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read