Wolverine, © Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Stock

Watch Out For Wolverines

What’s that playful fur ball over by the lake? Is it a black bear cub? A giant badger? No, it’s a wolverine!

A similar line of monologue must have been going through Dave Messa’s head last month when he ran into one of the rarest creatures in all of Northern California. Messa was on a solo backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada wilderness when he spotted a wolverine frolicking in the snowmelt near Lake Spaulding. He wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing until he snapped a photo and later verified that it had been a wolverine. Read more from the LA Times.

There are believed to be fewer than 300 wolverines in the United States, and this is only the fourth sighting of a wolverine in California since 2008. It could be the only one in the state, so Messa was indeed lucky to have such a close encounter. Watch this news report from FOX News-Sacramento:

Messa isn’t the only one getting lucky with wolverine sightings, however. Last week, citizen scientist Kalon Baughan collected photographs from Defenders’ remote cameras in the Montana wilderness that turned up a young wolverine (called a kit). This is even more astounding since biologists believe there are only approximately 35 wolverines breeding successfully in the U.S.!

For the past couple years, Baughan had been helping Defenders meso-carnivore expert Dave Gaillard and Defenders partner Wild Things Unlimited monitor important areas for wolverine and lynx activity in Montana and Wyoming. Tragically, we lost Dave at the end of last year in a ski accident, but it’s safe to say that he would have been thrilled to see these photos of wolverines in the wild from cameras he helped set up. Dave’s spirit lives on with every one of these majestic creatures that’s born in the wild!


Kylie Paul, the newest addition to Defenders’ Montana team, will be picking up where Dave left off, trying to save vital habitat for lynx and wolverines in the Northern Rockies. Keep an eye out for further updates from Kylie in coming months.

Go Team Wolverine!

21 Responses to “Watch Out For Wolverines”

  1. Lolapowers

    Too bad teh good people die so soon while the bad weed remains for a long timeRIP Dave!

    • michael Bean

      Just for the record there are wolverines in Maine. I have seen one to or three years ago while hunting for deer. Last week my father saw two of them last week on his farm and my neice saw one five weeks ago when we had some warm days. We all live in the central Maine area. We haven’t cought any on camera though we have tried.

    • randy Boucher

      i spotted a wolverine in my yard in woolwich maine when i pulled in my yard he ran in frunt my truck10 feet away then he ran under. my conex i been seeing trex in the snow .5 years ago when I bought the. land seened one on the. road that got ran over ?

  2. Tom Engelhorn

    Wolverines need more protection than most people estimate. I hope that Wolverines will be placed on the Endangered Species list as there is a very real possibility that these amazing and awesome animals may be extinct within 50 years. Thanks to the Defenders of Wildlife for their efforts to protect wildlife and educate the public about wildlife.

    • Zac Herrick

      I saw one crossing a woods road last week near Seboomook camp ground

  3. Bonnie

    I was please to see that I’m not the only person in Maine who has seen a wolverine! I live in Northern Cumberland County and saw my first Wolverine a few days ago. I come from a family of hunters and forestry/warden people and have been around animals in New England forever. We have a ton of Fisher and Gray fox where I’m at – this animal WAS NOT either one of those. I regret that I didn’t get a picture (and the ground was too hard and stoney for tracks)

    • Salvador Parra

      York County Kennebunkport a neighbor saw a large Wolverine in her front yard had been using an abandoned barn as a home. Nobody believes her .She said what was outstanding was it’s size and markings – over 3 ft in length -that’s Large!

  4. diana weggler

    My daughter saw a wolverine in Searsmont, Maine in the summer of 2013, late at night. (We live in a rural area.) She described it in detail to me and then when I showed her photos online she confirmed that is what she saw.

  5. Logger Man

    I also live in Maine and just saw my first wolverine yesterday. We were fishing near Canada Falls and spotted it while driving just off the Golden Road. We pulled up right next to it and got an excellent look from only a few feet. Hopefully that’s a good sign. Maybe there are more out there than the biologists estimate.

  6. bob carver


  7. Michelle

    Just saw a wolverine near my house in Bridgton, maine. Nobody believes me… but it crossed in front of my car. I had no idea what it was til I started doing some research. We have wolverines in central maine!

  8. Michelle

    Saw a smaller one again last night.
    My husband was with me this time. He didn’t believe me before but now he saw it too. So happy I had another sighting but they are roaming a little too close to my home!

    • Jackie

      My husband may have seen a wolverine climbing a tree in the middle of the night here in Union, Maine. He thought it was a badger but when I showed him the pictures of wolverines, he confirmed it was one.

  9. Alicia

    A couple autumns ago there was a wolverine in my driveway in Boothbay, Maine.

  10. Sean

    Very happy to see other people have seen them. My wife and I saw one stalking a couple pheasant, while driving down a logging rd around Danforth. We didn’t know what it was for a while, until we saw a stuffed one at cabella’s.

  11. KC malone

    I spotted a Wolverine crossing a ATV trail close to Westlake while going out for a blackberry pick about a week ago.
    Not being an outdoorsman, I was not sure what it was. Badger? FisherCat?
    Tonight on PBS was a show on Wolverines. What I saw was definetly A Wolverine

  12. Karen

    Three of us were driving in a vehicle on the Park Loop Rd in Acadia National Park about 20 mins after sunrise on 10/8/15, and we saw one gallop diagonally across the road in front of us and up into the woods. Caught up with it, and got a little more glimpse as it looked back at us. Too fast to take a pic. All black, adult and health looking. Definitely wolverine! We left a message for the biologist, but I doubt he believes us, and never called back. Too bad we didn’t get a pic.

  13. Teresa

    I saw a Wolverine in Hancock County, near Beech Hill Pond a few years ago. It crossed the road in front of my car.

  14. Nicole

    While driving back to our cabin in Greenwood Maine tonight (July 21, 2016) we saw a wolverine crossing the road from Twitchell Pond. We initially thought it was a badger but after some research it defiantly was a wolverine. It was in no hurry to cross the road so we got a good look at it but were not able to get a picture.

  15. Marsha

    My husband and I saw a wolverine at the end of Surf Street near Popham Beach on June 30,2016. It was up a slight hill so unable to see stripes down its back. We saw it in full side view at a distance of about 20 feet, brown with long bushy tail, about 22 inches at shoulder and we estimated it weighed 45-50 pounds. I drew a picture of what we saw. Someone suggested it probably was a fisher cat but upon looking at a photo of one, we saw they are much too small. When searching for pictures of a wolverine online, there was no doubt in our minds that what we saw was a wolverine. A guy in his mid 30s in Phippsburg confirmed that they are in the area. He said so few people are trapping anymore that they are making a comeback.

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