What is the status of the wolverine? Is it endangered or threatened in the U.S. What is its worldwide status?

WolverineWithin the U.S., the wolverine is not federally listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, although the Fish and Wildlife Service recently found the wolverine warranted for listing based primarily on concerns regarding climate change reducing the availability of wolverine habitat. Click here to see the Proposed Rule for Listing, in the Federal Register.  The USDA Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management classify the wolverine as a Sensitive Species. Various States have their own classifications dependent on how they view the status of the wolverine. The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) Animals Database holds information on threatened species and others of conservation concern. Part of this database is used to generate The IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals.

The IUCN (International Union of Conservation and Nature) Red List classifies the wolverine as follows:

Species: Gulo gulo
Common Name: Wolverine
Red List Classification: VU A2c (Mustelid Specialist Group)
Distribution: Canada, Estonia, Finland, Mongolia, Norway, Russia, Sweden, USA

1994 IUCN Red List Categories:

VULNERABLE (VU) A taxon is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future, as defined by:

A) Population reduction in the form of…

2) A reduction of at least 20%, projected or suspected to be met within the next ten years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on…

c) a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat.

What is the taxonomic classification of the wolverine?

The most widely accepted classification of the wolverine is:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Subclass: Theria
  • Infraclass: Eutheria
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Suborder: Fissipedia
  • Family: Mustelidae
  • Subfamily: Mustelinae
  • Genus: Gulo
  • Species: gulo
  • Subspecies: gulo (Old World), luscus (New World) – possibly, vancouverensis and other isolated subspecies not yet identified.

Does the wolverine have a natural enemy?

The mountain lion, wolf and bear are predators of the wolverine. However, the human is recognized as the primary predator of the wolverine.

Do wolverines hibernate?

No. The wolverine is not a hibernating mammal.

Is the wolverine a relative of the weasel?

Yes. The wolverine is the largest land dwelling member of the weasel family.

When is the breeding season of the wolverine?

Breeding season occurs from June through August. The species exhibits delayed implantation and the young, known as “kits” or “cubs”, are typically born during February and March.

Can the wolverine climb trees?

Yes. Although not considered to display arboreal behavior, the wolverine can adequately climb trees.

Is the Tasmanian devil a relative of the wolverine?

No. The Tasmanian devil is a marsupial in the family Dasyuridae. The wolverine is a carnivore in the family Mustelidae (weasel family). They may resemble each other physically, however they are distinctly different.

Is the wolverine nocturnal?

No. The wolverine is active day and night, all year long.

How much does a wolverine weigh?

There is sexual dimorphism in the wolverine, with a typical adult female weighing 8-10 kg (17.6-22 lbs.) and adult male 12-14 kg (26.4-30.8 lbs.). We are not aware of a documented weight of a wild adult in excess of 20.5 kg (45 lbs.). The largest individual (male) that we are aware of weighed 25 kg (55 lbs.) and was born and raised in captivity.

Are wolverines carnivorous?

Yes. The wolverine is carnivorous and its food habits are weighted to scavenging. However, it does consume some insects and vegetation e.g., berries, pine nuts.

How large are wolverines when they are born?

Wolverine “kits” are typically 110-120mm (4.33″-4.72″) in length and weigh 100-145 g (3.5-5.11 ounces) at birth. They are covered with white natal hair, their eyes are closed and they are truly altricial.

Does the wolverine have any other common names?

Yes. Some of the names that are still used in North America include; carcajou, skunk bear, Indian devil and ommeethatsees (Cree word, pronounced omaydatcheese).