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

WHAT’S IN STORE IN LANGLEY: Local aroma added to market’s latest Langley craft beer

Send your business happening or story tip to editor@langleyadvancetimes.com

Province holds power over Langley’s pot farming bylaw

The Township will wait for Ministry of Agriculture approval

Community Calendar: Langley groups always looking for volunteers

The community calendar is published in Wednesday’s print edition. Look for the arts calendar Fridays.

150 spoons and counting

Langley Fine Arts teacher Panagiotis Peter Sarganis showcases wooden utensil artwork at Fort Gallery

Fort Langley residents launch passionate debate over demolishing buildings

More than 40 people spoke at a meeting Monday evening

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

B.C. teacher suspended for professional misconduct

Grade 8 shop teacher admits to use of vulgar language and profanities toward students

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Most Read