Wolverine, the sequel: Feds propose to bring tough weasel back to Colorado

Today is the last day for public comment on a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to bring the wolverine -- not the Marvel character with the sharp claws, adamantium skeleton and tortured backstory, but something even more awesome and much, much more badass than Hugh Jackman -- back to the southern Rockies. And that means M56, the only confirmed wolverine currently hanging out in Colorado's high country, may be in for some company soon, after at least four years of lonesome wandering and solo hunting-and-slashing.

Stocky and powerful, wolverines -- the largest members of the weasel family -- are known for taking on prey much larger than themselves and thriving in beastly winter conditions. They even have special molars designed for cutting into frozen carrion. Hunted for their extremely efficient fur, they supposedly vanished from Colorado's mountains decades ago.

But there have been several sightings of reputed wolverines in the high country in recent years, and in 2009, M56, a particularly intrepid specimen the USFWS was tracking, crossed the Wyoming border and decided to check out the old stomping grounds.

With climate change diminishing the wolverine's habitat in the northern Rockies, the feds are seeking endangered species status for the animal and pushing for an "experimental designation" of Colorado and other southern Rocky Mountain states for wolverine habitat. The hope is that the species will have a better chance of weathering the next few decades in some of our more remote, high-altitude back country.

Where, presumably, M56 is lamenting, "There goes the neighborhood."

To weigh in on the proposal, go to the official comment site and enter in the Keyword Box Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2012-0106. Then enter your comments.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa 2011: "Preble's meadow jumping mouse conquers Wyoming -- again."

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