Friday, December 30, 2011

Native American Wolverine Legends

In Native American folklore, wolverines most often play the roles of bullies or anti-social trickster characters. Among the Innu people of Labrador and Quebec, Wolverine is a more benign trickster-transformer who shapes the earth and helps the people as well as entertaining them with his socially inappropriate misadventures. And in some tribes of Northern California, wolverines are considered lucky animals-- they feature in legends as successful gamblers, and seeing a wolverine is a sign of good fortune to come.  The site the following legend came from has many other good stories for bed time reading and provides an understanding of the role the Wolverine has played in folklore history.


How Wolverine Was Frozen to Death

This version of the legend comes from W H Mechling's 1914 collection Malecite Tales. Although the author describes these stories as belonging to the Malecite tribe, the man who narrated this particular story was Mi'kmaq. Since these two tribes are kinfolk and neighbors who share very similar cultures, it is likely that the story was told in both tribes.

One day Wolverine visited his older brother Bear, who was very glad to see him, and at once put the pot on the fire to cook him something. After the food was cooked and they had eaten it, Bear said to his younger brother Wolverine, "How would you make a fire if you did not have any flint and steel?" Wolverine acknowledged that he would be helpless without flint and steel. "Now I will teach you," said Bear, "how to make a fire, when you do not have any flint and steel." Having said this, Bear went out and got some maple bark, which he put in a little pile, and then jumped over it. As soon as he jumped over it, it burst into a flame. Then he said to his younger brother, "Now I give you power to make a fire."

Wolverine was very happy and was in a hurry to get away and try his power. As soon as he got out of the house, he started to run. He continued running until he got to a place where he could no longer see Bear. Then he collected some maple bark and made a little pile of it and jumped over it. When it broke into a blaze, he was very much pleased. He took out his flint and steel and threw them away, saying "These are no longer of any use."

Wolverine had no use for the fire he made; he only made it to try his power. So he went on, but he had hardly gotten out of sight of his first fire, when he decided to make a new fire. After that he made fires more frequently until at last he made them every ten steps; but finally his power gave out, for he had used it all up. When he next collected a pile of maple bark and jumped over it, it did not burst into flame. By that time it had grown dark and was very cold, and he was indeed in need of a fire. Then truly he jumped, but no success crowned his efforts. He had thrown away his flint and steel and was very much frightened, for it was very cold. He kept on jumping, but it grew so cold that he froze to death while he was jumping. He lay there until spring, when he thawed out. He was lying there dead, when his younger brother, Raccoon, came along and saw him.

Raccoon went over and tried to wake him up, saying, "Older brother, get up, you are over-sleeping, it is very late." Then the Wolverine rubbed his eyes, got up and said, "Younger brother, I overslept. I would have lain there forever, if you had not come by and awakened me." He would have rotted there, but as it was, he got his strength back and was as strong as ever.

The Gllutton

 Why Is the Wolverine Also Called the Glutton?
Glutton is a word for a person who eats too much. Another common name for the wolverine is the glutton, because this animal can eat a lot of food at one time. Wolverines often live in far northern areas. In winter, food can be hard to find. So when food is available, a wolverine gobbles down as much as it can. Wolverines can kill large animals, such as reindeer, moose, or wild sheep. But they mostly eat carrion, small animals, birds and eggs, and berries.

Wolverines have strong jaws and sharp teeth. They can easily crush bones and chew frozen meat. People have reported that wolverines can bite through tin cans. They are strong enough to drag a load of meat three times their own weight.

Wolverines can steal prey from much larger animals, such as mountain lions, wolves, and bears. They scare off these animals by raising their tails, fluffing up their fur, and growling.

The wolverine and the European glutton form the genus Gulo of the weasel family, Mustelidae. The wolverine is G. luscus. The European glutton is G. gulo

Child's writing contest

A very determined wolverine out looking for lunch.
The young wolverine opened it’s eyes after sleeping well for six hours to discover that the air was ten degrees below zero. After stretching and arching his back, he scampered out of his den into the crisp morning air to search for food. He was always hungry.
He went to his usual food stash, a tree stump about 5 feet away from the opening of his den. In his hunger the wolverine failed to notice the difference in his food stash. The two rabbits he had killed the day before were moved from inside the tree stump to the edge of the tree stump.
drawing_animal.jpg (6798 bytes)As the wolverine ran up to his rabbits, a loud snap filled the air. The wolverine’s foot was caught in a trap. He felt excruciating pain and began to thrashing around, tugging to free his foot. Finally, he pulled himself free from the trap leaving part of his foot behind. At first he wondered what had happened. His foot was bleeding and hurting more than it had ever hurt before.
He howled and whimpered as he went back into his den to nurse his wound. It took three days before the wolverine could walk out of his den and find some vegetation to eat. After a couple of months, the wolverines partially amputated foot healed and he was able to hunt again. But, for the rest of his life the wolverine carried around the remembrance of that day that he was not alert.
Story written by Aaron
Drawing by Samuel

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jeremy Roberts - Wildlife Biologist and film maker


The Cascades Carnivore Project is a collaborative research initiative whose mission is to sustain biodiversity in the Cascade Mountain Range by monitoring species of conservation concern and identifying important areas of habitat use. We have initiated a long-term study of the Cascade red fox (Vulpes vulpes cascadensis) and the wolverine (Gulo gulo) and continue our long-term monitoring program of forest carnivores.

Conservation Media

Conservation Media is your first choice for complete New Media conservation messaging. We provide everything you need, including website development, social media outreach, and production of professional-grade HD web videos. Check out our site

Grad School

Montana State University

Class of 2009 · MFA · Science & Natural History Filmmaking


University of Montana

Class of 2003 · Wildlife Biology (Honors)

Jeremy R. Roberts

Owner/Producer at Conservation Media

Missoula, Montana Area

Media ProductionCurrent
Professor at University of Montana School of Journalism
Board Member at Filmmakers For Conservation
Owner / Producer at Conservation Media (Sole Proprietorship)

see all Past
Research Fellow at Landscope America
Science & Conservation Program Manager at Sun Ranch Institute
Contract Biologist, etc at Non-Profits, Universities, & Gov't Agencies Education
Montana State University-Bozeman
The University of Montana Recommendations


Jeremy R. Roberts's Summary
I am an award-winning conservation filmmaker dedicated to advancing conservation through writing, photography, and filmmaking. I hold a degree in Wildlife Biology and an Master's in Science & Natural History Filmmaking. In 2008, I founded Conservation Media, a complete New Media conservation messaging organization. We provide everything including website development, social media outreach, and production of professional-grade HD web videos.

Please visit or go to or Vimeo site:

Northern Rockies biology and natural history, film production, writing, photography, cinematography.

Jeremy R. Roberts's Education

Montana State University-Bozeman
MFA, Science & Natural History Filmmaking

2005 – 2009

The University of Montana
BS, Wildlife Biology (Honors)

Graduated from Wildlife Honors Program

Activities and Societies: Morris K. Udall Scholar Barry M. Goldwater Scholar
Jeremy R. Roberts's Experience

University of Montana School of Journalism
Higher Education industry

December 2010 – Present (1 year 1 month) Missoula, MT

Board Member
Filmmakers For Conservation

Nonprofit; Myself Only; Nonprofit Organization Management industry
February 2010 – Present (1 year 11 months)

Owner / Producer
Conservation Media (Sole Proprietorship)

Sole Proprietorship; 1-10 employees; Media Production industry

December 2008 – Present (3 years 1 month)
Conservation Media produces high-quality, award-winning, conservation-based media and web content using green energy.

Paintbrush Films

2006 – Present (5 years)
Paintbrush films is a small production company that creatively blends science, moving images, and the timeless art of storytelling to engage audiences in the natural world.

We specialize in high-quality science & natural history films, stock HD footage, and wildlife photography. We are also available for production support in the Northern Rockies and beyond.

Northern Rockies Regional Editor
North American Butterfly Association
January 2006 – Present (6 years)
NABA is the preeminent non-profit butterfly conservation organization of North America

Research Fellow
Landscope America

June 2010 – October 2010 (5 months)
Literature Review and Website Content Building

Science & Conservation Program Manager
Sun Ranch Institute

Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Environmental Services industry

January 2007 – January 2010 (3 years 1 month)
At the Institute I helped design conservation land planning packages for owners of large ranches in ecologically sensitive areas. I inventoried species of concern, mapped noxious weeds, planned ecological restoration, etc.

Contract Biologist, etc
Non-Profits, Universities, & Gov't Agencies

January 1998 – January 2009 (11 years 1 month)
For over a decade, I have assisted in countless conservation projects, from radio-collaring wolverines and banding hummingbirds to amplifying lynx DNA and keying out plants via microscope.

Jeremy R. Roberts's Additional Information


Photography Interests:

ecology, conservation, media, filmmaking, photography, conservation messaging. Groups and Associations:

Filmmakers for Conservation, American Birding Association, North American Butterfly Association, National Audubon

Canon EOS Digital Photography

Conservation Commons



Green Professionals

Nature Conservancy

Partners in Flight

Science & Natural History Producers

Society for Conservation Biology

The Wildlife Society

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Professionals Honors and Awards:
2011 - Official Selection - Wild & Scenic Film Festival 2010 - CINE Golden Eagle Award - "Disturbance" 2010 - College EMMY - National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences - "Disturbance" 2010 - Silver Telly - Nature/Wildlife - "Wetland Legacy" 2010 - Silver Telly - Cinematography - "Wetland Legacy" 2010 - Bronze Telly - Government Relations - "Wetland Legacy" 2010 - Silver Telly - Charitable/Non-Profit - "The Right Place" 2010 - Silver Telly - Cinematography - "The Right Place" 2010 - Bronze Telly - Nature/Wildlife - "The Right Place" 2010 - Finalist - International Wildlife Film Festival - "The Right Place" 2009 - Bronze Telly - Nature/Wildlife - "Disturbance" 2009 - Official Selection - American Conservation Film Festival - "Disturbance" 2009 - Official Selection - MontanaCINE Film Festival - "Disturbance" 2009 - Classic Telly Award 2009 - Merit Award for Artistic Approach - International Wildlife Film Festival - "Disturbance" 2009 - Official Selection - IWFF - "After the Burn"

Jeremy R. Roberts's Certifications

Zeiss Certified Guide (Naturalist/Birding)
Zeiss Optics

Contact Jeremy R. for:
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wolverine Trap

This pilot study is focused on surveying for wolverines (Gulo gulo) in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest within and adjacent to the Eagle Cap Wilderness using proven non-invasive detection methods for wolverines.

Aerial track surveys have now also yielded wolverine track documentation in the study area. Due to the early success of this project, Wolverine Foundation directors have agreed to continue the study next winter, contingent on the availability of funding and equipment.

Wolverine Camera Trap - Wallowa-Whitman Nat'l Forest, OR. from Conservation Media on Vimeo.

This is great!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wolverine Listing Decision Made « Conservation Media

Wolverine Listing Decision Made « Conservation Media

On December 13th, 2010, the US Fish & Wildlife Service published a long-awaited report on the potential listing of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) under the Endangered Species Act.

Rare by nature, the 30lb (14kg) wolverine has achieved mythical status for its ability to kill moose hindered by deep snow and to drive wolves and grizzly bears from their kills. Scavenging and hunting, wolverines roam the high country where they depend on deep snowpack for denning. In fact, persistence of snowpack into late April is the greatest predictor of their occurrence, something that is measurably shifting due to climate change.

The USFWS report finds that protection under the Endangered Species Act is indeed warranted for the wolverine, but so great is the backlog of imperiled species, and so poor is the funding that protection for the wolverine must be deferred until the USFWS can deal properly with other priority species.

Although the report simultaneously acknowledges the imperiled status of the species and denies it protection, the report is at least significant in that it acknowledges that climate change impacts to habitat and connectivity are serious and reason to give rare and declining species like the wolverine federal protection.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Wolverine Video

The Need to Move (Wolverine Foundation)

The Need to Move (Wolverine Foundation) from Conservation Media on Vimeo.

Produced by Conservation Media for The Wolverine Foundation, this short film explores one of the most fascinating and least understood animals on the planet. This small, rare, and elusive creature may be able to kill a moose or fend a grizzly off a kill, but it faces serious threats such as climate change for which it is no match. 

You can support scientific research by supporting The Wolverine Foundation. Go to see how you can help.

Thanks to ZooMontana, Ronald Tobias, and Cody Westheimer of

The Need to Move (Wolverine Foundation) from Conservation Media on Vimeo.


The Wolverine is a powerful animal that resembles a small bear but is actually the largest member of the weasel family.

These tough animals are solitary, and they need a lot of room to roam. Individual wolverines may travel 15 miles (24 kilometers) in a day in search of food. Because of these habitat requirements, wolverines frequent remote boreal forests, taiga, and tundra in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Wolverines eat a bit of vegetarian fare, like plants and berries, in the summer season, but this does not make up a major part of their diet—they are tenacious predators with a taste for meat. Wolverines easily dispatch smaller prey, such as rabbits and rodents, but may even attack animals many times their size, such as caribou, if the prey appears to be weak or injured. These opportunistic eaters also feed on carrion—the corpses of larger mammals, such as elk, deer, and caribou. Such finds sustain them in winter when other prey may be thinner on the ground, though they have also been known to dig into burrows and eat hibernating mammals.

Males scent-mark their territories, but they share them with several females and are believed to be polygamous. Females den in the snow or under similar cover to give birth to two or three young each late winter or early spring. Kits sometimes live with their mother until they reach their own reproductive age—about two years old.

Wolverines sport heavy, attractive fur that once made them a prime trapper's target in North America. Their fur was used to line parkas, though this practice is far less common today and the animals are protected in many areas.

Fast Facts

Fast Facts

Average life span in the wild:
7 to 12 years
Head and body, 26 to 34 in (66 to 86 cm); Tail, 7 to 10 in (18 to 25 cm)
24 to 40 lbs (11 to 18 kg)
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Wolverine compared with adult man

Banff National Park

Banff National Park of Canada

Wolverine: legendary enigma

Wolverine Research Update 2004
Wolverine: legendary enigma

Wolverine: legendary enigma
© Parks Canada

The wolverine is an enduring symbol of deep wilderness, dogged determination and fierce independence. Yet in Canada's Rocky Mountains, their numbers are few and threats to their habits and habitats are increasing. Found throughout high elevation forests and well into the harsh alpine, the wolverine covers a phenomenal amount of territory. But increasing human use in their habitat may leave this remarkable species at risk. Wolverines seek the same solitude and isolation desired by many backcountry visitors. Denning females with young are particularly vulnerable to disturbance from skiers and hikers. Following is information on wolverine ecology, how to recognize their sign and suggestions on how you can contribute to research underway in the Mountain National Parks.

Biology and Ecology

Wolverine Research

Conservation Concerns

Biology and Ecology

Biology and EcologyThe wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family, collectively known as mustelids. Their relatives include weasels, mink, marten, fisher, badger and otters. They are truly a holarctic species, found across northern North America, Scandinavia and Russia.

In North America, wolverines range as far south as California, but south of the boreal forest, they are only found in the most rugged mountain ranges, including Canada's Rocky Mountains.

The wolverine, particularly males which can be twice as big as females, is often mistaken for a small bear or a large hoary marmot. Close in size to a medium dog, males can weigh up to 18 kg, while females are as heavy as 12 kg. They have a rich, chocolate brown coat with blonde stripes down the sides. Individuals have unique silvery markings on their face, which is broad and large for the body size.

If you see a wolverine, consider yourself lucky, for they are few and far between. Researchers in British Columbia and Idaho estimate there is just one wolverine for every 150 to 300 km2. They cover a lot of ground in search of food and mates. In the far north, males may range over 3000 km2, an area as large as Kootenay and Yoho National Parks combined.

Here in the mountains, home ranges are smaller, typically 600 to 1000 km2 for males, but no less impressive when you consider the rugged terrain they must cross. Females, especially those with young, maintain a much smaller home range, generally less than 300 to 400 km2.

The wolverines' appetite is legendary. Their scientific name, Gulo, comes from the Latin word for glutton, but really they eat no more than any other animal their size. It's just that they aren't particularly picky eaters. They''re also remarkably adept at breaking into food caches and backcountry cabins, a behaviour that has earned wolverines almost demonic reputations with trappers.

Once thought to be almost exclusively eaters of carrion, we now know they are accomplished predators. They will kill caribou, an animal several times their size. In summer, marmots and small mammals are the usual prey. In winter, most of their diet consists of large mammals such as mountain goats, moose and caribou that were previously killed by wolves or avalanches.

Other than females with kits, wolverines are solitary animals. Their lives may be best described as wandering mid- to high-elevation forests and alpine tundra in a continual search for food.

Mating occurs in May and June, but implantation is delayed until December or January, likely depending on the female's physical condition at the time. Poor nutrition caused by scarce food and increased stress from disturbances may impede a female from bringing a pregnancy to term. Come late winter, pregnant females move to higher elevations to den among large snow covered boulders or talus slopes, often in cirque basins, avalanche debris and windthrow. Here they raise a litter of 1 to 3 kits through the coming spring and summer. And it is here where this predator of renowned ferocity is most vulnerable.
Wolverine Research

In many respects, wolverines are similar to grizzly bears: they cover large areas, occur at low densities and are sensitive to human disturbance. Because wolverines are active all year, they are excellent indicators of ecological integrity in winter.

Parks Canada wants to identify key wolverine movement areas and their general landscape use in the Mountain Parks. This will help park managers make informed land-use decisions to ensure the long-term viability of wolverine populations.

The study area is centred on the Lake Louise - Continental Divide area: a major wildlife movement corridor linking the upper Bow and the upper Kicking Horse valleys. However, all wolverine sightings within the Mountain Parks are of interest.

Their movements are monitored by following their tracks in the snow. You can help by reporting any wolverine tracks you find.

Conservation Concerns

Despite their fearsome reputation, wolverines are susceptible to a number of disturbances. Denning females leave their young alone for up to several days while they search for food during the late winter. The young are helpless and vulnerable, so mothers ensure they are in a secure den, safe from potential predators. As a backcountry skier, you may unwittingly disturb a female with young kits, forcing her to find a new den and move her young.

Wolverines once ranged throughout western North America's mountains, as far south as Colorado and California. Today, relatively few persist in the lower 48 States. In southern Alberta and British Columbia, they are confined to the isolated backcountry of rugged mountain ranges. Human settlement and increased use of remote backcountry have shrunk the wolverines' range to the northwest part of the continent.

Wolverines in western Canada, including the Mountain Parks, are listed as a Species of Special Concern by the national Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). This ranking reflects their low numbers and slow capacity to recover from population declines. Both Alberta and British Columbia provincial governments recognize wolverine as a species that may be at risk and require special management considerations.

Canada's Mountain National Parks play an important role in providing valuable habitat for the wolverine near the southern limits of its distribution. They act as important refugia and a population source. Research in the Columbia Mountains has shown that adult female wolverine spend the majority of their time in Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke National Parks, where survival rates are higher.

However, we cannot rely on parks as a regional source for wolverines. They are just one part of the landscape and the total effort to conserve this remarkable predator. Because of their large home range, most wolverines found in national parks spend a portion of their lives beyond park boundaries where they are susceptible to various other threats including trapping and disturbance from motorized recreation.

Wolverines seek the same solitude and wilderness so highly desired by those of us who visit the backcountry. If we respect their home, this enigmatic animal will continue to traverse wilderness, offering tantalizing glimpses of legend.

Photo: Wolverine on a rock

The largest member of the weasel family, wolverines are fierce hunters, 
feeding on small rodents and even weakened caribou!
Photograph courtesy National Park Service

Related links:
The Wolverine Foundation

Golu Sketch