Two anglers spotted a “rare” and elusive creature dashing along an Oregon river, wildlife officials said.
They snapped photos of the bear-like animal March 20 along the Columbia River, near Portland, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a March 22 news release.
The photos were shared with Cascadia Wild and confirmed to be a wolverine, making it the first one to be spotted outside the Wallowa Mountains in 30 years, wildlife officials said.
Cascadia Wild is a nonprofit in Portland that tracks wolverines and other wildlife in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Once biologists got word of the sighting of the “threatened” creature, they verified the photos and went to the area the next day.
They found wolverine tracks, but no wolverine — or any other signs, officials said.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Cascadia Wild then set up a motion-detecting camera and a “hair-collecting device baited with a strong-smelling attractant” to determine if the animal was still in the area.
The hair-collecting device will help biologists identify the creature and learn where it came from, officials said.
Cascadia Wild volunteers later found scats nearby, which can also be genetically tested.
But it’s unlikely the animal stayed in the area, officials said, because wolverines can move 30 miles in one day.
“It is likely the animal is already long gone from where it was sighted,” officials said.
Where are wolverines found?
Wolverines are widely found in Alaska and Canada with smaller populations reported in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said.
They are typically found in higher elevations and areas with snowpack, officials said.
In Oregon, wolverines have been seen throughout the decades, even though it was believed they were gone from the state in 1936.
The creature was spotted in Oregon from the 1960s to the 1990s in Linn, Harney, Wheeler, Deschutes and Grant counties.
Three wolverines were also documented in northeastern Oregon during a monitoring project from 2010 to 2012, officials said.
The most recent sighting of the animal was in Wallowa County in 2022.