It is estimated that there are only between 250-300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States today. They’re rarely seen in Utah and almost never photographed outside of captivity.
But on Tuesday, May 4, one was spotted in Utah—in a very unlikely place. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, visitors to Antelope Island State Park took photos and videos of a hairy, black creature running, stopping, and running again across the dry bed of the Great Salt Lake. State wildlife officials have since confirmed that the animal in these images is, indeed, a wolverine.
“Wolverines are very rare to see because they are largely nocturnal, and they travel quickly, typically not staying in one area long enough to be found or seen,” Adam Brewerton, a biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), told the SLT. “We believe this wolverine sighted on Antelope Island is just passing through, since Antelope Island does not have suitable habitat.”
Utah is in the native range of wolverines but only very few sightings have occurred within the state in the past 40 years. Today in the lower 48, wolverines are most commonly found in the northern parts of the Cascade and Rocky mountains and have also been sighted in Colorado and California.
Could they be making a comeback in Utah?