Wolverines need high mountain snow to refrigerate their food caches

Reliable spring time snow appears to be vital for wolverine kits to survive-

Wolverines are legendary for traveling huge distances and eating just about anything.  However, a study in the recent Journal of Mammology shows that this is hardly true when it comes to baby wolverine and their mothers.

Wolverine females den in the snow high in rugged mountains (or the arctic), area previously almost immune to human disturbance. The reason now appears to be the need to build a food cache for the mother that will not spoil. This makes it so they can lactate without using the energy instead hunting. The kits are born at a time of year when wolverine food is hard to find.

Researchers have concluded that wolverine can only inhabit what they have termed the “refrigeration zone.”  This is a place where the snow lasts well into the spring because of high altitude, cool temperatures, and often, shade. An example of shade would be a cleft in the rock.

More. Wolverines’ winter food caches at risk to warming. By Wynne Parry. NBC News.







  1. Robert R Avatar
    Robert R

    I can tell you from my time in the back country 9000 feet in elevation or higher wolverines like those hidy holes. They also like where marmots and rock rabbits live and the one thing they seem to favor blow downs where trees are tangle in a mess or where an avalanche wiped out some trees and put them in gnarled mess.
    I have been lucky enough to see several in my life because I know where they stay. I once got bucked off of a horse because of wolverine. A wolverine is a very secretive animal to say the least and on the other hand they can be curious.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Robert R

    I haven’t seen a wolverine in one of these place, but I know what you mean. They can in fact be treacherous to the unwary person or animal (no doubt an important reason the wolverine use them).

    Once in late June (Lemhi Mountains) I wandered into and over a high elevation patch of rocks with with grooves and cracks packed with solid (I thought) old snow. After walking across the top of several patches, I suddenly dropped about 4 feet and was instantly stuck between the rock’s highwall on my left side and snow to my shoulder on the other. I was able to get my Sierra Cup out of my day pack with my right arm. After digging with it for about an hour, I had moved enough snow to climb out, wet and cold. Fortunately it was an unusually warm day and the sun still high.

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