When a woman said she saw a wolverine on a Washington state beach, a wildlife official didn’t believe her

Elusive creatures live in remote mountain areas and all sightings – much less on a beach – are rare, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Then she showed them a photo. In the May 23 photo, a furry animal with distinctive marks appears to be eating the carcass of a stranded sea animal.

Jeff Lewis, a WDFW mesocarnivore conservation biologist, told CNN about the encounter and confirmed that the animal was a wolverine. There are only about 20 mammals in the entire state, according to WDFW. They usually roam the remote mountain regions of the North Cascades, not on the sandy beach.

“It’s well off the beaten track for wolverines,” said Lewis. “It is not near the habitats where they are usually found.”

A photo of a wolverine.
The mysterious wolverine is the largest land member of the weasel family and can look like a small bear with a bushy tail. According to WDFW, the animal is stocky with short, rounded ears, small eyes and large feet that are useful for traveling in the snow.
Scientists believe there are only 300 species left in the contiguous United States, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit animal conservation organization. Due to trapping and habitat loss, the wolverine population has declined significantly, according to the center.

“It’s special and remarkable,” said Lewis of the sighting. “Before, we had to take people for their word. It’s easier to document this now, because everyone has a phone and a camera.”

A wolverine was spotted on May 20 by Jacob Eaton in Naselle.

A wolverine was also seen on May 20, walking on a road in Naselle, a town east of the Long Beach Peninsula, said Lewis. An observer took two photos and submitted them to Lewis for confirmation.

“Given the bizarre nature of these sightings,” said Lewis. “It seems likely that it is the same animal.”

Although the animal appears to be smaller, said Lewis, it is normal for wolverines to come off on their own. The age and sex of the animal are unknown. He added that the miners disperse to find new homes far from their loved ones.

“I worry about this one because it is in a much more densely populated area than where it is used to,” he said. “What worries me most is that it can hit the road or someone can pull it.”

Lewis said he hoped more people would be able to document the animal’s journeys, which would give the research a glimpse of its unusual movement. Also, if the hair is left behind by the furry animal, this will help research collect DNA on it. Residents can submit photos by calling their regional wildlife office. Lewis said the animal was not a threat to humans.

“People don’t have to worry about it,” he said. “Just enjoy watching it pass.”

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