Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Real Wolverine

The first blockbuster movie of the summer is tearing across movie theatres this month, with Hugh Jackman in the titular, adamantium claw-wielding role of superhero Wolverine. While your opinion of the movie may be mixed, it’s undeniable that the species behind the name rocks!

The endangered eastern population of Wolverines is arguably one of the most misunderstood and least known of Canada’s wild animals. There are unconfirmed sightings of this elusive creature each year, although positive identification is difficult since they can resemble porcupines, fishers, or small bears in appearance. With fewer than 50 members estimated throughout Labrador and Quebec, the greatest challenge facing this species is that the population may be too low for natural recovery.

The Facts:

  • Wolverines are known for traveling long distances. Their range extends from less than 100 square km for females to more than 1,000 square km for males. These are the largest reported home ranges for a carnivore.

  • Wolverines are non-migratory and do not hibernate during the winter. They’re active day and night, and alternate three to four hour periods between activity and sleep.

  • The Wolverine’s powerful teeth and jaws are adapted for crushing the frozen meat they scavenge in winter. They will even eat frozen bones and pelts when desperate. In summer they eat berries and vegetation, too.

  • The Wolverine is known by a variety of descriptive names: ‘skunk-bear’ because it marks its food and various landmarks with urine and musk, a fluid secreted by its anal glands; and ‘glutton’ because of its voracious appetite. Carcajou is its French Canadian name.

Read more and find out what’s being done to protect this iconic animal in its Nature Canada species profile.