I thought we can start a thread where we can post endangered species from all over the world with a bit of information about them.
Wolverine, Eastern population
By Melanie Furlong
Common name: Wolverine, Eastern population
Latin name: Gulo gulo
Status under SARA: endangered; declared by COSEWIC in 2003
Range: Labrador and Quebec (eastern population)
Life Span: 17 years
Size: Adult males weigh approximately 14 kg; females, 9 kg. Adult male is approximately 1 m long, female is shorter.
Population Estimate: Fewer than 50
Photo: Sylvie Bouchard, courtesy of the Zoo sauvage of St-Felicien
Although the wolverine is known as a clever trickster-hero and a link to the spirit world in First Nations mythology, its eastern population may not have been able to find a way to stay in our earthly one.
For years the eastern population of wolverines was hunted for its frost-resistant fur, ideal for lining parkas, and its pesky habit of raiding hunters’ trap lines. Its population continued to decline as its main food source, the caribou, failed in Labrador and Quebec and humans continued to hunt it.
Today, the eastern population of wolverines is one of the most misunderstood and least known of Canada’s wild animals.
Michel Huot, chair of the Wolverine Recovery Team (Eastern Population) in Quebec, says the animal closely resembles porcupines, fishers and even small bears and is very difficult to identify without a blood or tissue sample. “The first time I saw a wolverine in a zoo,” says Huot, “I was sure it was a fisher – and I had studied the animal extensively.”
Although, there have been no verified reports of wolverines in Quebec since 1978, and none in Labrador since the mid-1950s, there are unconfirmed reports every year. It is believed that any remaining population is extremely small and, therefore, at high risk of extinction.
“This animal is very difficult to help,” says Huot, “because it is so rare in the vast, unpopulated areas of Quebec and Labrador.”
The wolverine’s apparent lack of recovery despite the recent high local abundance of caribou suggests that this population may already be extirpated. There is some possibility, however, of a small pocket of wolverines in the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, 200 km north of Quebec City, where there have been repeated sightings. If there is a population of wolverines in that area, it is thought to be separate from the rest of the range.
Lack of habitat is not a problem for the eastern population of wolverines, but a population that is too low to allow for natural recovery may be its single biggest challenge.