The Great Alaska Nature Factbook


Wolverine
The wolverine is born to be riled. Extremely powerful for its size, Gulo gulo (loosely translated from the Latin to mean "glutton") is a get-out-of-my-way kind of animal that will do just about anything for a meal, including break into cabins, steal bait and snared animals from traps, eat frozen caribou, and occasionally kill a moose or caribou.

This largest terrestrial member of the Mustelidae family (which includes weasels and sea otters) looks like a bushy-tailed cross between a badger and a bear, with thick brown fur marked by two creamy stripes along each side. Males weigh 20 to 45 pounds; females average 15 to 30 pounds.

Primarily a scavenger, the wolverine has powerful jaws for eating the frozen meat of winter-killed animals, and large teeth to crush the bones and skin of carcasses left behind by wolves and bears. But if the carrion pickings are slim, wolverines are fully capable of hunting their own squirrels, snowshoe hares, ptarmigan, marmots, and under rare circumstances, moose, mountain goats, and caribou.

Wolverines are very solitary animals, coming together only for a brief mating season. Males stake out territories of up to 240 square miles and travel up to 40 miles a day in search of food; females maintain smaller territories of 50 to 100 square miles. Because the species requires expansive tracts of undisturbed, forested wilderness, wolverines have all but disappeared from most of their historical range in the Lower 48. But in Alaska, the "carcajou" is still distributed across most of mainland Alaska and some parts of Southeast.

Northern peoples have long favored wolverine fur to trim their parka hoods. Not only is it thick and beautiful, but the tapered guard hairs shed frost better than any other fur. Wolverine fur is quite durable as well; the hairs donít break or pull out, even after years of service. On the overall fur quality scale of 100, wolverine is rated 100 (a top honor it shares with its cousin the sea otter.)


Selected Works

Children's Books
A rollicking romp of raven hijinks.
A humorous rhyming revue of 15 northern animals.
Nonfiction
A guide to the remarkable animals, plants, and natural features of the northern Rocky Mountains.
A guide to the remarkable animals, plants, and natural features of Alaska.
Seasonal excursions of wildlife discovery