By Kelsey Verboom
A lone female wolverine was found lifeless in a ditch in Kootenay National Park during the May long weekend. Park staff believe the furry creature was struck by a vehicle, making it only the second such incident in the park since 1979.
Notoriously elusive, wolverines are rarely spotted. They slightly resemble a small bear, but are actually the largest members of the weasel family.
Between 2001-2010, there were 556 vehicle-caused large mammal deaths in Kootenay National Park. But because of the wolverines’ ephemeral quality, they are not usually seen roadside and therefore don’t normally fall victim to vehicle strikes.
However, on May 21st, a Parks Canada staff member who was driving five kilometres south of Marble Canyon spotted a female wolverine carcass in the ditch.
Staff estimate the wolverine had been killed sometime during the previous night, likely by a passing vehicle. The creature had distinctive white patches on its chest, was in good health and weighed less than 10 kilograms.
“This is an incredibly rare event,” said Omar McDadi, communications officer for Parks Canada.
“There are people who spend their whole lives trekking and hiking in the mountains and yet do not get the chance to see a wolverine.
“They are a true symbol of Canadian wilderness, as represented by the National Parks, and it’s extremely rare to see one. It’s unfortunate that this is how it was sighted. Thankfully these types of collisions are very rare.”
Although the exact number of wolverines in Kootenay National Park is unknown, researchers in British Columbia and Idaho estimate there is just one wolverine for every 150 to 300 square kilometre.
Parks asks anyone who has the good fortune of spotting a wolverine to report it to 403-762-1470 or email email@example.com.