Wolverines documented in B.C. rainforest

Evidence shows the often-reclusive wolverine has taken up residence for the first time on an island off British Columbia’s Central Coast and the animal’s eating habits have changed along with its relocation.

VANCOUVER — Evidence shows the often-reclusive wolverine has taken up residence for the first time on an island off British Columbia’s Central Coast and the animal’s eating habits have changed along with its relocation.

The study, published Monday in The Canadian Field-Naturalist, shows that at least two wolverines inhabit Princess Royal Island, part of B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest.

There are about 3,000 to 4,000 wolverines in B.C., but most of them are in the Interior, in snowy habitats and higher elevations, the study said.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologist Tom Shardlow, who authored the report, said it was the first proven sighting of a wolverine in the area.

“The main thing is it’s an oddity,” said Shardlow. “It’s the first time anything has been published that indicates wolverines occupy these islands.”

Wolverines are typically the same weight as a mid-sized dog. The largest land-inhabiting member of the weasel family, the wolverine also has a reputation for fierceness. There have been reports of wolverines killing caribou, according to the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology.

The animal is rarely sighted on the coast, and while there have been occasional stories of the animal being spotted on the islands of The Great Bear Rainforest, none have been verified and published until now, he said.

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