A wolverine was spotted near The Front in Harrison Hot Springs on Thursday, April 25. (Harrison Hot Springs News and VIews/Facebook)

Harrison wolverine sighting ‘exciting’ for biologist

Wolverines have huge territories and seeing them near human settlement is not very common

Harrison Hot Spring residents were greeted by an unusual visitor early Thursday morning (April 25), when a wolverine was spotted around The Front grocery store on Hot Springs Road.

An image of the wolverine circulated through a number of local Facebook groups, with residents warning each other to keep an eye on their pets and even their children.

Although some posted comments with a degree of fear, others gave the animal exactly what wolverine researcher and PhD student Mirjam Barrueto believes it deserves: respect.

“It’s something to be excited about,” she said, “because there’s so few in that area,” with maybe 10 animals in the entire north Cascade mountains.

In the past, their range stretched across the mountainous areas of Canada, going all the way down the Cascades Mountains in the States.

After years of hunting, the wolverines became numbered and their range reduced. It’s only now that wolverines are rebounding in the Garibaldi Mountains the the American Cascades Mountains.

According to Barrueto, those two ranges are likely where Harrison’s visitor came from.

RELATED: The secret lives of B.C.’s wolverines

“Your area is kind of a pinch point where animals can go from the Canadian coastal population that’s probably pretty healthy to the north Cascades population that’s really small,” she said.

“My guess would be, and that’s a total guess, is that what people saw in the backyard was probably a dispersing young male … that’s either going south or north, trying to find a place for his own territory.

She also said it was possible it was a young female doing the same thing, although that seems less likely because females are much more shy and don’t generally move across highways.

Although wolverines are small, maybe about the size of a medium-sized dog, they have territories as large as grizzly bears and patrol them each day.

“You can always only have one female in one home range,” Barrueto said. “That makes them really rare, even under the best circumstances.”

“They are also pretty sensitive with human disturbances,” she added. “When there’s too much they usually tend to abandon an area … because their needs are really at odds with our ways of using the land.”

Because of this, wolverines aren’t usually spotted in populated areas, and it’s possible one won’t be seen again in Harrison any time soon. But in case a wolverine does saunter past the Front grocery store this spring, Barrueto said the best approach is to treat it the way you would treat any other wild animal.

“They have a really big reputation because whenever they’re trapped or try to defend themselves, they make really bad noises,” she said. “I would treat them with respect … not necessarily fear, because there hasn’t really ever been attacks of wolverines on people.”

“If you surprise the wolverine, you would want to give it a lot of space,” she added. “Don’t feed it, don’t corner it, and chances are it’s going to be gone in a few minutes and you’ll never see it again.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

What do you think about these seven proposed Abbotsford pot shops?

Council will decide upon four locations for Abbotsford’s first legal cannabis stores

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Return-It depot in Abbotsford part of aluminum-can pilot project

Customers won’t have to separate alcohol and non-alcohol cans from each other

Vancouver double homicide leads to arrest in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday

VPD and RCMP tracked dumped vehicle connected to killings to Chilliwack

Multiple accidents slowing westbound Highway 1 traffic

3 accidents in Langley, Abbotsford within 30 minutes

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Surrey officer-impersonation scam continues ‘almost daily’

Police reiterate warning that demands for Bitcoin in exchange for waived charges are fraudulent

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Investigation clears RCMP in incident where man fell from Langley overpass

‘Officers acted commendably and placed themselves at risk’ police watchdog report finds

Most Read