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  • Lincoln County Leader -- The News Guard

    Recent wolverine sightings believed to be connected

    By Steve Card,

    28 days ago

    Recent sightings of a wolverine along the coast and in the Willamette Valley have been described as “very unusual,” and officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are attempting to determine if all the sightings are of the same animal.

    Jason Kirchner, ODFW district wildlife biologist based in Newport, said, “We’ve had some (sightings) confirmed in Netarts, Nehalem, Newport, Florence and now Eugene. It’s very unusual. They typically are in the mountains.”

    Kirchner said it’s highly likely that it has been the same animal seen each time. “They cover some ground. They cover like 30 miles in a day,” he said. “It’s been a pattern. It started on the north coast, then it kept moving south and then it was kind of quiet for a number of days. Then it popped up in the Eugene area, and we had a number of sightings there.

    “We’re hoping it goes east to the Cascades and gets back up into the high country,” added Kirchner. “Usually they live in those high, snow-covered mountains, rocky habitat. We suspect this is a possible juvenile male that’s dispersing from where it grew up, and it’s trying to find its place in the world.”

    Each time a wolverine sighting has been reported, efforts have been made to gather evidence from the scene.

    “We go out and see if there was like some fencing or something that had some hair on it,” Kirchner said. “In Newport, we found a few pieces of hair and some tracks, so we collected those. And then when it showed up in Florence, we got video of it going over a fence. So we went there and found a really nice clump of hair. And then the last couple of days the biologist in Eugene got some scat samples.

    “We’re going to send this off to a lab in Montana to get the DNA analyzed because we want to see if it’s the same one or it’s a couple,” he added.

    The wolverine seen in Newport at around 5 p.m. on March 21 was reported by Terry Martin, owner of the Agate Beach Golf Course.

    “My son spotted it, and he asked me, ‘What the heck is that?’” Martin said. “I grabbed some binoculars and I’m looking at it trying to think what it could be. It’s dark, it’s black, it’s not a beaver, it’s not a small bear, and then he turned and looked, and I could see kind of a mask around his face, he had that long tail, and then I saw kind of a brownish stripe, and I go, ‘That’s got to be a wolverine. I can’t believe it’s a wolverine.’”

    Martin’s home is located off the end of the driving range at the golf course, and the wolverine was in that general area when spotted.

    “He just was there for about 15 seconds, walking, and then he disappeared down this trail,” Martin said. “I took my dog and (son) Ross and I went down where he was. My dog picked up his scent right away. I had to hold him back on the leash because he wanted to go after it. His hair was standing up on his back the whole way.”

    Martin said they tracked him quite a ways, to the edge of the ninth fairway through the woods, “and then I’m not really sure where he went from there.” He had been able to take a couple of photographs of the animal, which ODFW confirmed was a wolverine.

    Kirchner said wolverines will eat meat, berries, carrion, anything they find. “They are very opportunistic,” he said.

    In most cases, they present no danger to humans. “They don’t like people too much, even though this one’s been seen around towns and stuff,” he said. “They’re always on the move. They can be aggressive, but usually only if someone’s trying to chase it or corner it, things like that.”

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