Animals in the Wild
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by Jim Robertson
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Badgering the Wolverine

Dear Editor,

After reading Joyce Campbell’s article, “Wolverine nabbed on Harts Pass” (February 15, 2006), I have to object, on behalf of “Melanie” and mustelids everywhere, to the ham-fisted treatment of the animal trapped by Forest Service and state biologists.

Rather than taking the word of witnesses who have come across wolverines (or wolves or grizzlies for that matter) here in Washington, the “experts” have to go out to catch one for themselves. But their skepticism and obsession with data collecting can have dire consequences for an animal stuck in a trap for hours or days that must seem like weeks. Melanie, the young wolverine trapped at Harts Pass, was jabbed with a needle on the end of a stick, immobilized, handled, her ears were tagged, and she was fitted with an awkward radio-collar. It seems the biologists at the scene badgered their captive in every way possible, short of sending her to Abu Ghraib, or on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney.

Worst of all, meddling in the life of a rare and reclusive animal, keeping her confined in a trap until wolverine authorities from as far away as Missoula, Montana could make the trip across two states to get some hands-on of their own, may have separated the yearling from her mother. Mom likely stayed around until people roared into the area on snowmobiles, forcing her to abandon her trapped offspring and reluctantly retreat further into the wilderness. We can only hope the animals eventually find each other or that Melanie learns to survive on her own.

Years ago, I reported seeing a wolverine at her den in the North Cascades, but did not divulge the location, for fear that someone would march out there to trap, collar or otherwise traumatize the animal. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

Jim Robertson 

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