Wolverine

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A wolverine
Wolverine photographed in Finland

The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is a member of the Mustelidae family (the weasels). Some authors (Hall 1981) have regarded the North American Wolverine as a species (Gulo luscus) distinct from the Eurasian Wolverine (Gulo gulo).[1]

It is not related to the wolf or the bear, as some may think. The male is about 18 in (46 cm) tall, the female 14 in (36 cm). Their length ranges from 36 in (91 cm) (female) to 45 in (110 cm) (male) and they reach a weight of around 25–36 lb (11–16 kg). Their tail measures about 8 in (20 cm). Their brown fur protects them from the extremely cold temperatures and their big feet enable them to walk on top of snow.

Wolverines can be found in the Northern United States, in Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Russia, and also in Northern Europe. Michigan is known as the Wolverine State, but wolverines were not observed there in the wild since the 1800s until 2004 when a female was found in the thumb. She died in 2010.

Wolverines are omnivores. They eat berries and nuts as well as small animals and even large game. Their main source of food is carrion. They often chase a predator away from its prey and take the kill for themselves. They are one of the smallest and most powerful predators in the world.

Wolverines feed on almost every type of food that they can find: mice, rats, birds, bird eggs, reindeer and other large prey. Wolverines prefer to hunt larger prey in winter, when the snow slows down the prey and gives the wolverine an advantage.

Wolverines reproduce every two or three years. The female gives birth to one to three young (called kits) in a tunnel called a den deep underneath snowdrifts.

The human is the wolverine’s main enemy. The wolverine’s thick, warm fur is used to manufacture the trim of a parka's hood or other winter clothes, as the dense guard hairs do not collect frost. The Wolverine is highly territorial.[2]

February 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed giving Endangered Species Act protections to the wolverine largely because climate change (global warming) is whittling away its wintry habitat in the northern Rockies.[3]

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