“Wolverines eat everybody,” says Doug Chadwick, author of The Wolverine Way. “Alive, dead or long dead, moose, mouse, fox and frog; still warm or long-frozen.”
Chadwick will be coming to Golden as part of Wildsight’s Wolverine Way Tour this Friday. The biologist and author tracked wolverines in Montana’s Glacier National Park for five years. He came to see the gnarly little carnivores as “the most intriguing creatures ever to walk the wild.”
But, for all their bone-crunching ferocity and their ability to climb everything—trees, cliffs, avalanches and summits, some of these for no apparent reason—wolverines are in serious trouble.
A recent study by the American National Centre for Atmospheric Research found that climate change is likely to imperil the wolverine in two ways: reducing or eliminating the springtime snow cover that wolverines rely on to protect and shelter newborn kits, and increasing August temperatures well beyond what the species may be able to tolerate.
“Wolverine numbers are dwindling,” says Robyn Duncan, tour organizer and Wildsight program manager. “We hope that Doug’s message will inspire people to join the effort to protect areas for wildlife.”
Duncan said that Chadwick is both humble and an amazing storyteller; she’s excited for him to bring his knowledge and experience to several communities throughout the Columbia Basin this month.
In an interview with his publisher, Patagonia, Chadwick explains that wolverines have long legs, big snowshoe paws, long claws for crampons, powerful muscles, a frost-shedding fur coat, and a revved-up metabolism.
“Wolverines, I began to realize, are every bit as cool as wolves and grizzlies – and equally important as symbols of the last untamed places,” said Chadwick. “The need to get wolverines on the public’s radar was largely what prompted me to start writing this book. Folks will work hard to save a species they care about, but they first have to be able to envision its life and needs.”
Like polar bears, Chadwick explains, wolverines are so closely tied to ice, snow, and cold that they are especially vulnerable to the impacts of a rapidly shifting climate. By the same token, they become important indicators of what may happen to the mountain goats, hoary marmots, pikas, and white-tailed ptarmigan that share their high country niche in the Lower 48. They are indicators to the fish and waterfowl in rivers that rely upon glaciers and snowfields to maintain their flows, and to the upland forests increasingly plagued by diseases and insect infestations associated with rising temperatures, he explained.
Rick Ridgeway, and environmentalist and Emmy Award winning filmmaker, said that Chadwick is “one of the eminent animal storytellers of our time,” calling his book “an adventure story, a surprising story and a bad-ass story.”
Chadwick will give his presentation, The Wolverine Way, at the Kicking Horse River Lodge on Friday, February 18th at 7 pm. The lodge will be open at 6 pm with light dinner options and beverages available. Anyone is welcome to attend.