There's currently one known wolverine in the state of Colorado, but there soon could be a lot more. Eighteen months ago, one of the giant weasels wandered into our state, where wolverines have long been absent. He was implanted with a tracking device and given a name: M56 (awww...). Today, he's a happy, healthy hunter in the Rockies, and he's convinced the Colorado Division of Wildlife to consider a broader reintroduction.
But there are obstacles. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service recently added wolverines to its list of "warranted but precluded" for designation as an endangered species. Effectively, that means the government thinks wolverines deserve protection, but not as much as, say, the cave crayfish. There are 234 candidate species on the list along with the wolverine. So while it's unlikely that they'll get bumped up to environmental protection's VIP list anytime soon, the threat is enough to make the Colorado Division of Wildlife think twice about reintroduction. Their concern is that the animal's presence could make it harder for existing institutions (the ski industry, say) to do things in potential wolverine habitats.
The ski industry, meanwhile, hates this idea. Mostly it's about land use, but let's not forget that we're talking about an incredibly vicious predator here. Let's take a wander into the wolverine's Wikipedia entry, which, as these things go, is an amazingly entertaining read. Fun facts gleaned therein:
-More like a small bear than a weasel (which is what it technically is). -Capable of killing prey many times its size. -Potent "anal scent glands" give it the nicknames "skunk bear" and "nasty cat," both of which sound like crappy radio morning-show DJs. -Known to pick fights with black and polar bears. -Their hungarian name translates to "gluttonous badger." -Name of X-Men character.
We can't decide. On the one hand...holy crap. On the other hand, they were here before we were. So we leave it to you, Latest Word readers: Should Colorado start reintroducing wolverines in the high country?
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