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Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

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Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby Trail Boss » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:47 pm

On September 29, 2011 I hiked my first 13er, Square Top mountain. As a flatlander, who normally hikes in the Adirondacks, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to return to Colorado next year.

I hiked Square Top as part of a clockwise loop around Square Top lakes. Upon arriving at the eastern end of the nameless ridge, north of the lakes, I opted to descend via a steep chute (see marker A in the linked map) and intersect with the trail. I arrived at a point where there is, what appears to be, a dry pond bed (see marker B).

The descent route was steep and I felt exhilarated when I exited at the dry pond. I stood there for a few minutes, taking photos of my descent route when I was startled by a snarling sound. I looked in the direction of the noise and saw a fair-sized, furry animal, moving quickly down the rocks (see marker C). The distance between the animal and myself was less than 400 feet. I saw it for only a few seconds but I immediately knew I was looking at something I've never seen back east. Here's what I noticed:

    It moved effortlessly down the rocks, like water flowing downhill, and demonstrated spinal flexibility (and a rear-end hump) commonly seen in weasels (mustelidae). However, this animal was large enough to be easily seen from a few hundred feet away. It appeared to be as large as a medium-sized dog.

    It had a tail that was about as long as its torso. The tail was furry and the same color as the rest of the animal. The fur color was medium brown but seemed to be mottled with a lighter brown color. I did not see it long enough to notice any markings. I did not notice any truly contrasting stripes, colors, or spots.

    After it bounded down a few rocks it disappeared. I raised my camera but the opportunity had passed. I waited a few minutes but it never reappeared nor made additional sounds.
I considered everything I had seen and concluded that the only mustelid large enough to fit the bill was a wolverine. From what little I know about badgers, they have substantially shorter tails compared to what I had seen. I watched a few Youtube videos of wolverines in motion and I'm convinced I saw a wolverine. I realize they are rare in Colorado but that only makes the sighting more unique.

And if it was a badger ... well that's pretty cool as well. Thanks for the souvenir, Colorado!




Marker A: the start of my descent route.
Marker B: the end of my descent route (intersected the trail).
Marker C: my estimate of the animal's location.
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=39.59163,-10 ... stadt%20CO

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby dehrlich101 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:58 pm

That would be a rare sight to see a wolverine in Colorado. There is one recorded instance of the creature making it all the way to Colorado from the Tetons in 2009, which was the first recorded sighting of a wolverine in Colorado since 1919. There was talk of reintroducing more wolverines into Colorado, does anyone know if DOW ever started this process?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=wolverine-arrives-in-colorado-first-2009-06-19
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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby justify429 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:00 pm

I'm thinking a marmot?

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby dehrlich101 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:02 pm

Could it be a elusive Colorado Honey Badger.. Honey Badger doesn't give a s**t.


http://youtu.be/4r7wHMg5Yjg
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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby csmcgranahan » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:06 pm

I was thinking marmot too until I reread the original post and realized marmots don't make any noise that I would describe as a snarl.

A wolverine would be unique indeed. I've seen a few badgers in Colorado and Wyoming but a wolverine sighting would take the cake.

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby dehrlich101 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:17 pm

If you really do think you saw a wolverine up there you should fill out a form found on the web link below for the Colorado DOW biologists.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/SpeciesOfConcern/Mammals/Pages/Wolverine.aspx
I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in - Aldo Leopold

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby JE242 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:31 pm

There have been a few sightings roughly betweeen Guanella Pass, over to the divide and north in the past couple years. One confirmed in RMNP by a ranger 2 years ago. I'd love for them to re-establish, but, "it takes two to make a thing go right", and according to some biologists, this may be a lonely male that will never find a mate :( .

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby Trail Boss » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:40 pm

I'm open to other interpretations of what I had seen. I would not have seen it at all if it had not snarled and made me turn to locate what I perceived as a threat. Whatever it was doing, it needed to sound aggressive and I can assure you it made me pay attention. Whether wolverine or badger, I was glad it was no closer to me than it was ... and not moving towards me.


Thanks for the link to the form; I'll check it out.

BTW, the linked page has photos and the shagginess is what I recall but did not get a clear enough view to see its face and the contrasting markings.

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby Tory Wells » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:10 pm

Very cool. I hope it is a wolverine. But I also know there are a lot of hunters in that area...hopefully some a**hole does not kill it to put it up on his damn wall.
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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby coloradokevin » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:00 am

Sounds like a wolverine from the description, though it does seem that they are very rare around these parts.

Best I've seen myself was a badger. Actually, my ex killed the badger before we even knew it was a badger. About 5 years ago we were driving out to DIA at night, and suddenly something flashed in front of the car on Pena Blvd before disappearing in a serious "thud" sound. Thinking it was an unfortunate dog, we pulled over and got out to investigate. Fortunately it wasn't a dog, but sadly we found a dying badger who then died within a few seconds.

Made for a weird conversation:

Me: Hmmm, never seen a badger up close
Her: Yeah, wow, I didn't know we had those out here
Me: Well, we HAD those out here.
Her: What?
Me: Well, we HAD at least one. Kind of neat to see, too bad you killed it.

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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby Kruck » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:07 am

^^^
Badgers love the high and dry plains. Delicious, delicious prairie dogs.

To the OP, I wouldn't discount that it could have been a wolverine. DOW will tell you no, since they can't verify, but you never know. There's a lot of land out there. I'm stuck in Iowa right now and the local folks can't find a cougar that they are looking for, have a picture of, and know what county it's in. Counties here are 20 mi X 20 mi basically. And this is an area with a farm-to-market road grid that puts a road every mile and where you can't go for a 7 mile bike ride without ending up in some town. If you can lose a cougar in a cornfield, you can lose a badger in a boulderfield.

Could a wolverine hide in the high hills and no one would ever notice? As my ND-born wife would say, "You betcha!"
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Re: Spotted a wolverine near Square Top.

Postby FireOnTheMountain » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:41 am

Could it be a elusive Colorado Honey Badger.. Honey Badger doesn't give a s**t.


http://youtu.be/4r7wHMg5Yjg


:lol: :lol: I couldn't watch it all cause its just too ridiculous.
Everyday is a G r A t E f U L Day here in the CO

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