In collaboration with the United States Forest Service (Naches Ranger District), the Cascades Carnivore Project has documented a reproductive female wolverine, south of Interstate 90 in Washington’s Cascade Range.
They nicknamed her Pepper and she is also the first female wolverine documented south of I90 in many decades. She was first detected in 2016 at two baited camera stations on the Naches Ranger District. This April, she was photographed at one of the project’s runpole monitoring stations. From photographs, they confirmed with wolverine experts that she is lactating and therefore has kits (as long as they remain alive).
“It’s a good sign that wolverines are expanding their distribution in Washington,” said Jocelyn Akins, the conservation director with the Cascades Carnivore Project.
Wolverines are know for their need of large areas to roam. These kits, which were found south of Interstate 90, could have a lot of distance to cover later in life. “Unless there’s other wolverines south of I-90, they’re going to have to travel quite a distance to find a mate. So you can imagine the potential sources of mortality that would occur: the highways and vehicle collisions,” Akins said.
That’s one reason the wildlife overpasses on I-90 are important, she said, to connect the southern and northern Cascades.