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A wolverine has been seen outside of its normal range for the first time in 30 years

A wolverine is pictured on Jan. 28, 2016.
Frederick Florin
/
AFP via Getty Images
A wolverine is pictured on Jan. 28, 2016.

A wolverine has been spotted outside its usual roaming range for the first time in more than 30 years, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The animal, which is the largest member of the weasel family and classified as a threatened species in Oregon, was spotted by two people fishing in the Columbia River near Portland on Monday. The animals typically reside in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, and have not been seen outside that area in decades.

"Given the proximity to Portland, we were very surprised when this report came in and elated when we were able to verify the sighting," ODFW district wildlife biologist David Keiter said.

ODFW and nonprofit Cascadia Wild set up cameras and hair-collecting devices to try to cross-reference other wolverine genetic samples to see where it came from. Though, the wolverine is not likely to return to the area, as they travel up to 30 miles a day, ODFW said.

"It is likely that this animal was dispersing as the habitat in the area doesn't meet the life history requirements of wolverines," it said.

Wolverines are mostly found in Alaska and Canada, but have populations in Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Idaho. They were thought to be eradicated in Oregon in 1936, and while there have been some reports since then, their numbers are still low in the area.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie