The Wolverine is the largest terrestrial mustelid in Oregon that, to some degree, resembles a small bear.
It is powerfully built with a broad, dog-like head; short round ears; small eyes; a slightly humped back; relatively short legs and a bushy, somewhat drooping tale. The pelage consists of a dense, wooly, crimped under fur overlain by course, stiff and somewhat shaggy guard hairs. Fur on the tail is about twice as long as on the body. The base color is blackish brown with a pale brown stripe extending along the sides from the head or shoulders to the base of the tail. Lighter markings often produce a face mask. The throat and chest are splotches with yellowish white, and a ventral gland is marked with a narrow streak of white.
In Oregon, Wolverines have been found on Three-fingered Jack in Linn County, on the Steens Mountains in Harney County, Broken Top Mountain in Deschutes County, and in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area in the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon. More recently it was confirmed in Wallowa County, as well.
Wolverines do not hibernate, but may be inactive during inclement weather. Activity is greatest at night, but where wolverines are relatively common, sighting a wolverine during daylight hours might be expected.
The Wolverine has a reputation for having a mean and savage disposition; the reputation likely derived from observations of individuals caught in traps or in cages. Trapped or caged individuals can exhibit defensive aggression unmatched by most other species in similar circumstances. They are powerful animals that often can escape from traps, can tear into buildings or food caches, and can kill even the largest cervids.
The Wolverine is an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species in the Blue Mountains ecoregion.
Photo by ODFW