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A wolverine was spotted this week by people fishing on the Columbia River near Portland, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
It was the first confirmed report of a wolverine in Oregon outside the Wallowa Mountains in the northeastern part of the state in more than 30 years, according to officials.
Wolverines resemble small bears with bushy tails. They are rare and listed as threatened in Oregon, according to the department.
On Monday, two anglers snapped photos of the animal and submitted the information to Cascadia Wild, a nonprofit wildlife conservation group that focuses on wolverine tracking, along with the department. On Tuesday, the groups verified that the animal in the image was a wolverine and discovered a set of wolverine tracks near the river.
No other signs of the animal were found.
“Given the proximity to Portland, we were very surprised when this report came in and elated when we were able to verify the sighting,” said Dave Keiter, district wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a news release Wednesday. “We really appreciate the people who reported this rare occurrence and Cascadia Wild who helped us confirm the report and begin monitoring efforts.”
The department and Cascadia Wild have installed noninvasive monitoring stations in the area in hopes of capturing more evidence of this elusive creature. But they said they aren’t hopeful that the animal will make an appearance again.
“It is likely that this animal was dispersing as the habitat in the area doesn’t meet the life history requirements of wolverines,” the news release said. “Wolverine(s) can travel over 30 miles in a day, so it is likely the animal is already long gone from where it was sighted.”
The sighting excited wildlife enthusiasts.
“A WOLVERINE, a freaking WOLVERINE in Western Oregon week, month, year made!” the state wildlife agency tweeted.
It is asking anyone who captures images of the animal to submit them to the department.
“Some of the best information on wildlife can come from regular people who are paying attention to what they see,” said Teri Lysak, wolverine tracking coordinator with Cascadia Wild, in the release.
“Many thanks to the couple who saw this animal and took the time to share it with us.”
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, wolverines are found in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. It lists the animal’s status as “proposed threatened.”