As wolverines battle to survive, warming poses a new threat

By the end of the century, the small, fierce carnivores of the north could lose most of their habitat south of Canada because of climate change.

All senses on alert, a wolverine in Montana’s Swan Valley triggers a camera trap while feeding on a deer carcass. These secretive predators are built for survival in frozen northern landscapes. Can they adapt to a warming world?
WITH ASSISTANCE FROM SWAN VALLEY CONNECTIONS

One night years ago, biologist Albert Manville drove to a garbage dump near Lake Louise in Alberta’s Banff National Park.

The site was unfenced back then, and grizzlies often came to rummage for leftovers. Manville was watching a bear feast on a hefty scrap of meat when he noticed movement toward the edge of his car’s beaming headlights. It was a wolverine, staring intently at the bear and the meat. What else could it do? It weighed maybe 30 pounds; the grizzly weighed several hundred.

“Then all at once the wolverine ran up and bit the bear right on the butt,” Manville says. “The grizzly whirled and swiped with a paw, but the wolverine was already racing around to one side. It grabbed the meat and ran off into the dark.”

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