MISSOULA – A wildlife monitoring project has captured what they believe may be the first documentation of wolverine kits in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Wolverine Watchers, a citizen-science monitoring project, said that three kits and their mother were captured on film munching on deer bones at a wildlife data monitoring station.
In the video, the wolverines can also be heard growling and snarling at each other.
The project enlists nearly 150 volunteers from Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley each winter season and is run by MPG Ranch and Defenders of Wildlife in partnership with the Bitterroot National Forest. Volunteers collect data using wildlife cameras and baited hair snare stations.
The project specifically targets wolverines as well as fishers on the northern half of the BNF.
“We’re beyond excited to have this great footage of wolverine babies in the Sapphire Mountains of the Bitterroot National Forest,” said Kylie Paul. “There are only small pockets of high-quality wolverine habitat in the Sapphires and this shows how valuable those secure pockets are for these critters.”
Wolverine Watchers, since its start in 2015, has documented 10 individual wolverines in the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. Some individual wolverines are seen only one season, while others are found each year. This winter, one wolverine was observed with visible teats, showing it was a lactating female and therefore had babies. Cameras were left up beyond the end of the typical field season, in hopes of capturing footage of the female returning with her kits.