A handful of skiers had the rare opportunity to see a wolverine Monday on the front side of Big Mountain.
The sightings later were confirmed by tracks and scat found around a deer carcass.
“There was a wolverine seen on the Big Mountain by a number of people,” said Chuck Cameron, a veteran ski patroller who has worked 21 years on the mountain.
One of those skiers told Cameron about a deer carcass near which the wolverine had been seen just off the Lower Badrock run, about 200 yards from the base of Chair 4.
“When I went to that location and found the deer carcass, there were wolverine tracks and scat all around it,” said Cameron, who can recall only one other time a wolverine was spotted — about 10 years ago near Hellroaring Peak.
Staying in character with a reputation for being highly elusive, the wolverine apparently managed to avoid being photographed.
Amy Jacobs, a Flathead National Forest wildlife biologist with the Tally Lake Ranger District, said several people called her to report seeing tracks or seeing the wolverine, but she isn’t aware of anybody capturing an image of the critter.
Jacobs said she has received occasional reports about wolverines farther north on the Whitefish Divide but she cannot recall a previous report of a sighting on Whitefish Mountain Resort property.
“It must have been fun to be skiing and see a wolverine,” she said.
Research conducted in Glacier National Park several years ago demonstrated how wolverines can be incredibly durable travelers, capable of quickly covering huge distances in nearly vertical terrain.
The “movement ecology” study used transmitter collars to reveal that the Glacier wolverines commonly traveled more than 92 miles a week.
The research also showed that Glacier has a population with wolverines that frequently disperse, including one male that traveled 120 miles to the Northwest Peaks area in extreme Northwest Montana.
Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at email@example.com.