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

Bradner hosts 100th annual May Day celebration

Parade and country fair take place in Abbotsford on Monday, May 20

United voice calls for more senior services in Aldergrove

‘The people here deserve more’ says founder of the local Seniors Resource Fair

Aldergrove’s water park opens to public at discounted rates

Though the pool remains closed, the Township has decided to charge a toonie for admission

Fraser Valley pup trained in Aldergrove co-stars in A Dog’s Journey

Film premiers this weekend, starting Friday in Canadian theatres

Homeless woman unsuccessful in lawsuit against government

A Langley homeless woman tried to sue Victoria and Ottawa

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

Most Read