Wolverine

Description

The wolverine is the largest member of the Mustelid family, which, in North America, also includes martens, weasels and fishers.

The squat, powerfully-muscled animal resembles a small, flattened bear. Wolverines are dark brown with a light grayish forehead and a pale stripe running from the shoulders along each side and crossing the rump. Their dense fur with long guard hairs, which don’t ice up in winter, is highly prized for trimming parkas. Their large paws help them move on top of crusted snow.

A wolverine has a dark bushy tail, a broad rounded head, small eyes and ears. Males average 1.2 meters in length and 0.5 meters in height at the shoulder. An average male weighs about 15 kilograms. Females are smaller, averaging about 0.9 metres in length and weighing about 10 kilograms.

Wolverine

Distribution

Today, wolverines in Canada are only found in northern boreal forest and tundra in the Northwest Territories (NWT), British Columbia and Alaska. They have disappeared from southern Quebec and much of the southern portions of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Wolverines do not thrive near human settlements. Population numbers for the NWT are not known.  Estimates suggest there is a stable but sparsely distributed population numbering in the thousands.

Habitat

A wolverine's home range is large, generally covering several hundred square kilometres of tundra.  An adult male typically uses an area several times larger than an adult female. Dispersing yearlings can typically cover over 1000 km². Wolverines use different parts of their home range at different times of the year.

Status

Wolverine has been assessed as Special Concern under the federal Species at Risk Act.