Rare wolverine spotted in Idaho's Pioneer Mountains

Rare observation and photo near the top of Idaho’s second highest mountain range-

Hikers see solitary member of the weasel family on east side of range. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.


The wolverine was near the top of one of the canyons in the distance.
Photo copyright © Ralph Maughan






  1. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    I heard a credible report that a wolverine was also spotted multiple times on the east side of the Pioneers in a different location a couple weeks ago…

  2. Salle Avatar


    I recall back in April of 1995 I was driving from Moscow, ID to Stanley and saw a wolverine just north of New Meadows at about 7:30 am. It was running in a flat flood plane area alongside the road in the same direction I was traveling giving me several moments to get a good look at it from the road. To confirm the specie when I got to Stanley to meet with Ken C., I had him look it up for me. When the picture came up I was sure it was the same animal. I was very surprised by its location, I never thought I’d ever see one of those.

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar

    that country is really something. i took some family from texas up to copper basin, where the photo appears to have been taken, a week ago – we meandered through charcoal creek – the only aspen clone spared the cattle via an exclosure Jon convinced the Forest to put up decades ago. That basin and everything around it would be a national park if anywhere but Idaho. There is a diversity of landscape and wildlife, and the potential for so much more, in this place that floors me. to consider there’s wolverine in there makes it that much more special. Thanks for the post Ralph.

  4. Mike Avatar

    Great story. That picture reminds me of the Crazy Mountains over in Montana. They too would be a national park if anywhere else but Montana.

  5. mikarooni Avatar

    Mike, you’re right. A whole lot of Montana is spectacular and should be protected one way or another. Too many Montanans don’t realize it. We need to keep working on it.

  6. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Let’s hope that some idiot working on master’s degree in wildlifecollarology doesn’t get a grant to capture this incredible animal and put a radio-collar on it.
    I spent a lot of time in Copper Basin when I lived in the area and would have enjoyed seeing a wolverine.
    I found a huge bison skull stuck in a beaver dam in Copper Basin when I was 15, but was unable to pry it out. When I returned with an axe later in the summer, someone had beat me to it.

  7. JimT Avatar

    I am with Larry…leave it alone, and focus efforts on getting it on the ESA and protect habitat.

    Raises the old issue..do you report a sighting or not? Me? I come down on the side of counting my blessings, sharing with a few friends, and let that be the end of it. I have no trust in the state or fed natural resource folks at this point to handle any rare or endangered species issues.

  8. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Hello all, I’ve been on vacation for a while. Have I missed much on the blog?

    JimT, I agree that it is a dilemma to report a sighting or not. Larry, I have to disagree with you to an extant on the collaring, simply because it could lead to some valuable information, namely, are there more wolverines out in that area. That being said, I worry about publicized accounts of sightings like that, especially with predators like wolves or grizzly bears as the wrong person (a trigger happy poacher, not an honest hunter) might get wind of it.

  9. Ray Avatar

    If they don’t know more about wolverines in the lower 48, they’ll never be listed. The work of wildlife researchers has been critical to our understanding and preservaation of rare species, at least when its not tampered with by politicians. Collaring the animal is not the end of the world…

  10. Dusty Avatar

    The researchers who work with wolverines, at least the ones that I am acquainted with, use microchips placed subcutaneously. Don’t know how long they last but I do know that they use those instead of collars.

  11. Pronghorn Avatar

    If researchers are supposedly the salvation of wolverines, one wonders why they aren’t taking a unified stand against the continuation of wolverine trapping by the state of MT. After all, recreational/commercial trapping has probably ruined more studies than anything else. I know of only one researcher who has spoken out, unequivocally, against FWP “management” of wolverines through trapping…but perhaps there are more.

  12. JimT Avatar

    As of last summer, there was someone in the Bozeman office of Defenders of Wildlife who was charged with working on the issues of “meso or mezopredators” like the wolverine, lynx..the smaller predators. I don’t know what the status of that program is-it may have been a victim of the economy. But, I would start there for information..and maybe to get more involved.

  13. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Disasters like the botched jaguar study in Arizona this spring and the death by infection of capture- dart wounds of two grizzlies in the Yellowstone area this year, are reasons enough to leave this animal alone. It is time to stop treating our wildlife like they were domestic animals belonging to the research industry. We have this huge surplus of research biologists competing for reasons to keep their jobs. They kill or injure large numbers of wild animals each year in their quest to become the world’s greatest experts of the animals they chose to study. Let this wolverine be.

  14. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Larry, where in the hell in this article or this blog did it say anyone was going to collar, dart or otherwise harass this animal? Please point it out to me, cause in my limited capacity, I seemed to have missed it..Christ, stop courting trouble before any trouble has even been sensed!!!

  15. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    Every wolverine spotted in any of the western states, including California, soon has someone putting a radio-collar on it. We always hear about it after the fact. I am sure that some graduate student is already trying to figure out how to get a thesis project from this animal. I am trying to head them off before they get started.

  16. JB Avatar

    “We have this huge surplus of research biologists competing for reasons to keep their jobs. They kill or injure large numbers of wild animals each year in their quest to become the world’s greatest experts of the animals they chose to study.”

    You are nothing if not persistent, Larry. Wrong, but persistent.

  17. Justin Avatar

    A father and son backpacking just spotted it near Moose and Angel lakes two days ago.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan