Remembering the Wolverine that Broke a 200 Year Drought of Sightings in Michigan
Michigan is known as "The Wolverine State" and Wolverine is the nickname of the University of Michigan, but most who live in the state know that the actual animal has been all but non-existent here for a very long time.
But in 2004, a female wolverine made an extremely rare appearance in Michigan's Thumb-region. It was the first confirmed appearance for the large weasel in the state in over 200 years. DNR officials confirmed the presence in an area near the village of Ubly in Huron County. DNR Wildlife Biologist Arnie Karr was credited with capturing photos of the animal as it ran out of the woods and ran across a field on February 24, 2004, after coyote hunters in the area initially reported sightings.
The news immediately made rounds on local, state, and even national media because of how rare it was. One DNR official said at the time that the appearance of a wolverine in Michigan was just as unlikely as a polar bear or a caribou showing up in the state. In fact, a few years earlier, the wolverine was removed from Michigan's endangered species list because it wasn't expected to ever return to the state.
And even though it has been several years since the wolverine decided to set up residence in the Wolverine State, it is still considered a mystery how and why the animal came here. But while it was here between 2004 and 2010, it was spotted on security cameras and by residents a few times in the Minden State Game Area.
The animal died sometime in late 2009 or early 2010. Its body was discovered by hikers in March of 2010. The wolverine was later taken to a taxidermist to be stuffed. It has since been on display at the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center in the Bay City State Recreation Area.
The wolverine, a member of the weasel family, grows to about 25 pounds and is considered quite ferocious. They've been known to fight off bears and wolves. They once ranged across the northern and western United States. Now, sightings are mostly limited to northern Canada, Idaho, and Alaska, with occasional sightings in other states. But until 2004, its last confirmed sightings in Michigan were by fur traders in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
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