Researchers say a wolverine appears to be thriving in the northern Sierra Nevada, seven years after being confirmed as the first one in California since the 30s.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Chris Stermer says more than two dozen documented sightings of the solitary predator have occurred since it was first observed in March 2008 about 15 miles northwest of Truckee, California.
Caught by infrared cameras, the wolverine was seen about 15 miles northeast of Truckee in November.
DNA sampling of the animal show that he is originally from the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, which means it made it about 800 miles. However, biologists do not know if he wandered down himself or if someone dropped him off.
Wolverines look like a smallish bear cub. It is low to the ground with stubby legs and large paws that allow it to move quickly in deep snow.
The animal is very strong and is a scavenger that can bite through bone and frozen flesh. It is not dangerous to humans, in fact, it notorious for being elusive and avoiding people.
Stermer says the male appears healthy with dense fur and ample weight, and has staked out a nearly 300-square-mile swath of the Sierra north of Interstate 80 as his territory.
"The department has been discussing for many years if it should reintroduce the wolverine in California," Stermer told KNPR's State of Nevada.
The biggest concern about a reintroduction plan is whether it would hurt endangered animals already in the Sierra Nevada habitat.
Wildlife department personnel are keeping a close eye on the wolverine to make sure it is continuing to thrive and they have been getting DNA samples to determine if there is one animal or if they're monitoring a pair.
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