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Dr. Kevin McKelvey Dr. Kevin McKelvey

Wildlife Ecologist: My favorite experience was digging out a wolverine snow-den in Glacier National Park. To study wolverines, scientists capture wolverine kits (baby wolverines) and put tracking instruments on them.
These instruments help us follow their movements. To put the instruments on them, we first dig down through the snow to the wolverine den site. The den site is usually under about 8 feet of snow and under large rocks or downed trees. To find the dens, we have to look for wolverine tracks. I was lucky enough to follow tracks that led to the den. The den was visible by a small hole in the snow. I was digging down, with the surface of the snow about 2 feet above my head when I broke through into the center of the den. Immediately, I heard the mother wolverine growling right beneath my feet. I had this image of an enraged female wolverine crawling up my leg and gnawing on my head. But Mr. Jeff Copeland, who has years of experience with wolverines (but who was also standing safely on top of the snow) said: “It will be fine.” It ended up being fine.
We were able to capture the two kits, and conditions were perfect for putting the instruments on them without causing them a lot of stress. Wehad to work quickly with mom circling about 50 meters away, waiting for us to be done! (In the picture, the wolverine kit is covered with a blanket to protect its eyes while we are studying it. The wolverine kit was released back to its mother when we were finished.)
enraged

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