ADF&G says to be on the lookout after string of wolverine attacks

Courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (KTUU)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) A string of wolverine attacks in Anchorage has prompted the Department of Fish and Game to give official notice to in-town residents in hopes of protecting any pets and other animals, as well as garnering information from the public.

"Wolverines, usually even in good populations, they exist at fairly low density," said Dave Battle, a wildlife biologist for the department. "So there's not a lot of wolverines in any one area, and it's very rare for them to actually come into town."

Wolverines have been found close to town, he said, such as in Chugach State Park or at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, but he said it's uncommon for them to enter neighborhoods.

Torrie Ruhle, who lives near 66th and Elmore, said she had a run-in with the wild animal over the weekend. She was awakened by her dog, she said, reacting to her cat getting into a scuffle with a wolverine. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident. That includes her cat, Lenny, who only ended up covered in wolverine slobber by the end of the ordeal.

"I have lived here my entire life," Ruhle said, "here among animals, and I could not believe it. I was in pure shock. It was not phased by me, at all."

The attack on Ruhle's property is the latest in a series of offenses by at least one wild wolverine, most of which have not been so tame. Recent incidents have led to the deaths of pet rabbits, chickens and livestock.

Battle said he recommends electric fences to fend off wolverines, and implored the public to alert the Department of Fish and Game in the event of a wolverine-related sighting or incident.

"I would definitely recommend people take the precautionary actions," Ruhle said, "because it is obviously in the area."

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WOLVERINE ADVISORY

The Fish and Game office in Anchorage has been receiving reports of a wolverine that has been traveling through the neighborhoods adjacent to Elmore Road, primarily from O’Malley Road to Dowling. Most reports are simple sightings, but this wolverine has killed chickens and rabbits, and attacked at least one cat (the cat was uninjured). While there is a healthy population of wolverines in the backcountry around Anchorage, having one in and around neighborhoods for an extended period of time is an extremely rare event. Below are a few facts about wolverines we wanted to pass along.

1. Wolverines can kill livestock and other small animals, but to our knowledge, there has never been a documented case of an attack on a human by a wolverine. However, they are wild animals, and caution should be exercised if one is encountered.

2. Wolverines have a very good sense of smell, so keep all attractants (including livestock, livestock food, garbage, etc.) well secured.

3. They are good climbers and diggers (fences will not slow them down).

4. They are primarily scavengers but will hunt when the opportunity presents itself. Keep an eye on pets, and protect livestock with electric fences that are designed for the job (for more information on the use of electric fences to exclude bears and other wildlife, visit our website at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livingwithbears.bearfences).

Please be aware of your surroundings, especially when letting pets outside in the mornings and evenings.

Remember, leaving human food, animal food, or garbage in a manner that attracts wildlife is a violation of state law.

If you have any wolverine encounters or sightings, please call the ADF&G office directly at 907-267-2257 or report online at: https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=reportwildlifeencounter.main

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