Wolverine DNA verified " he’s no local | SierraSun.com

Wolverine DNA verified " he’s no local

Sun staff report

TRUCKEE “-The wolverine spotted two winters in a row north of Truckee is definitely not from around here, according to a study.

Findings published in the latest edition of Northwest Science from 10 federal, state and university scientist say the predatory mammal is most closely related to the Rocky Mountain population. Wolverines hadn’t been spotted in California prior to this one for 86 years.

According to the study, the wolverine most likely came from Idaho, with results showing a 73 percent confidence level, according to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

By comparison, the California wolverine had less than a five percent probability of belonging to most of the other North American wolverine populations evaluated.

“We still can’t be sure how this animal came to the Tahoe National Forest,” said Bill Zielinski, one of the study’s authors and a research ecologist at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station. “But, this peer-reviewed study shows that other scientists agreed with our interpretation that it likely traveled here from the Rockies.”

Zielinski said the photographed animal would have traveled more than 400 miles to reach the national forest if it naturally dispersed from the nearest Rocky Mountain population. He said if the wolverine was accidentally or deliberately transplanted, it would have more likely originated from an area where wolverines are more common and legally trapped, such as Alaska or the Yukon Territory.

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Sierra Pacific Industries wildlife biologists also photographed the wolverine this winter using remote-controlled cameras on land it manages in California. Wildlife Genetics Laboratory scientists determined it to be the same wolverine photographed last year.

The published study is available online at http://www.bioone.org/toc/nwsc/83/2