If you sighted a wolverine in the wild, you might think it is a very large skunk or a very small bear. Characterized by thick dark brown fur with a light stripe coming down from each shoulder to the base of the tail, this member of the weasel family has a broad flat head and its thick body is supported on short strong legs. Males weigh 20 to 45 pounds while females tend to weigh less. The wolverine’s long, curved claws along with its large teeth and powerful jaws allow it to crush and utilize bones and frozen remains from other carnivores’ kills or animals succumbing to desolate winters.
Odds are that you will never encounter a wolverine in the wild. These shy solitary creatures prefer the rugged terrain of high cirques and steep rocky slopes. Wolverines need large isolated tracts of land to prosper, which is getting harder and harder to find as property development and recreational land use continues to spread. Wolverines depend on wilderness and are among the first affected when humans take over their territory.
Male wolverines are quite territorial and travel extensively, using areas up to 240 square miles. Adult females require smaller ranges, and the territory of an adult male may encompass those of 4-6 females. During their annual mating season is the only time that males and females interact.
Most wolverines live for 5 to 7 years in the wild, with rare cases documented to 12 or 13 years of age. They usually succumb to starvation or are killed by other predators, primarily wolves. The primary cause of wolverine mortality, however, is hunting and trapping by humans.