Wolverines are so rare and elusive that even many people who spend countless hours in Wyoming’s vast outdoors never see one in the wild.
Backcountry skier Nick Gaddy was lucky enough to see two — one in Montana in 2020, and another on Monday in Wyoming. And he managed to capture video of his encounter on Monday as the animal flew across the snowy landscape.
“I know people who are wildlife biologists who study wolverines but have never seen one,” Gaddy told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.
And that’s not an exaggeration.
Zack Walker, the non-game wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, recently told Cowboy State Daily that he estimates there may only be 15 or so wolverines in Wyoming, and he has yet to see one. one of the wild people.
On Monday, Gaddy captured video of a wolverine tearing through an alpine snowfield at seemingly impossible speeds on the Wyoming side of the state line near Cooke City, Montana.
Wolverines are much smarter than people give them credit for, he said.
“One of the main characteristics of the animal that I noticed in both of my wolverine encounters was its amazing strength,” Gaddy said.
First Encounter In 2020
Gaddy lives in Red Lodge, Montana, and is a frequent visitor to Cooke City. He loved exploring the wild country on both sides of the Wyoming-Montana State line, and saw his share of wildlife.
He was sure he had a once-in-a-lifetime stroke of luck after catching a glimpse of a wolf while backcountry skiing with his girlfriend in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains during winter 2020.
They had just finished going down a chute when they heard a noise nearby.
“While we were standing there, we heard a rock fall, and I started looking for a mountain goat,” he said. “I just thought there was a mountain goat running.”
Instead, they saw a wolverine run out of some cover and appear briefly in an open area before running back into cover. The incident lasted only a few seconds, and Gaddy didn’t have time to take out his cellphone and try to take a photo or video.
While he was skiing for a little adventure in part of Wyoming on Monday, he said he noticed a “musky smell.” He thought there was some kind of wild animal nearby but couldn’t guess what it was.
On his way home, he went down a steep mountain slope, just near the tree line.
“I turned to the right, and I saw some movement, maybe 50-75 feet away,” he said.
He immediately recognized the thick creature as a wolf, and was momentarily stunned by the incredible luck of the second encounter.
“I had this moment when I was standing there, jaw on the ground. And then I realized that I had time to take out my phone,” said Gaddy.
He got a clear shot of the wolverine tearing the snow away from him, running effortlessly through the hard snow.
In the video, Gaddy can be heard excitedly calling out “ang gulo!”
“Gulo” is derived from the French or Spanish term for “glutton,” he explained.
“That’s what some call the wolf, the ‘glutton,'” Gaddy said.
Right Place, Right Time
After the swift wolverine was out of sight, Gaddy finished skiing down the slope. Down below, he turned around and saw the creature again, this time from a distance.
“We just looked at each other for a second, and then he was gone,” she said.
On his way home, Gaddy ran into other skiers and showed them the video.
“People were really surprised,” he said.
He also noticed wolverine tracks following the ski tracks from his journey. She thought he was referring to the musky scent she had picked up earlier that day.
“It was very clear that he came up behind me and just followed the track,” Gaddy said.
He appreciates the greater possibility of seeing not one, but two wolves in the wild.
“I think it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.
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