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Wolverine

Gulo Gulo - "Qavvik"


Population Status

Distribution:

Wolverine occur throughout the Yukon. They are widely distributed across the Yukon North Slope.

Population size:

The size or density of the wolverine population on the Yukon North Slope is unknown. However, in a relatively untrapped region of Alaska’s north-western Arctic foothills, wolverine attained fall densities of 1.35-1.82/100 km2. A population study of the Yukon North Slope was conducted in 1993/94.

Population trend:

Unknown

Unique or special characteristics:

  • The eastern race of wolverine is classified as endangered by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada), while the western race is listed as a species of special concern; this has led to heightened national attention to the management of wolverine.
  • Wolverine are at naturally low densities over their entire range, have relatively low reproductive potential, and are dependent on large tracts of wilderness.

Habitat Features

Preferred habitat for wolverine is poorly known. In northern Alaska, remnant snowdrifts in small drainages with meltwater caverns are believed to be important for maternal females and their offspring. Snowdrifts are thought to provide den sites. The quality of wolverine habitat is probably linked to the biomass of large mammals; as such, the seasonal occurrence or range of the Porcupine caribou herd may provide good wolverine habitat. Places where ground squirrels occur may be important too.

Harvest

Inuvialuit:

From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest of wolverine reported by Aklavik residents was ten. The harvest during this time was biased toward males; the explanation for this is unknown. Most wolverine are tracked and shot in late winter, typically by caribou hunters. The Government of Yukon, in partnership with the Aklavik HTC, has been collecting furbearer harvest data from Inuvialuit residents of Aklavik since 2001. Harvest information recorded includes species, date, location, sex and maturity of the animal. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.

Others:

Regulations under Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions.

Harvesting Rights
AreaInuvialuitOthers
Ivvavik National Park Exclusive None Permitted
Herschel Island Territorial Park Exclusive None Permitted
East of the Babbage River Exclusive None permitted
Adjoining NWT Exclusive Permitted with tag

Eco-tourism

Wolverine are occasionally seen in association with the Porcupine caribou herd. Because wolverine occur at low densities, the opportunity to see them is a particular attraction to Firth River rafters.

Threats

Populations would be threatened by excessive harvest pressure. Climate change is also thought to be a serious threat because wolverine denning habitat relies on snow drifts and the characteristics of this snow (and availability of it) are changing as a result of global warming.

Species at Risk Status

Yukon:
Special concern
COSEWIC:
Special concern (western population)
CITES:
none

Research and Monitoring

Population monitoring:

There is an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island. There are no other ongoing programs on the Yukon North Slope. The GNWT initiated a wolverine harvest monitoring and population health study in 2004. Aklavik trappers are participating in this study.

Research:

The field work for a population study of wolverine was completed in 1994. Radio transmitters were used to determine population size, composition, and distribution. Various research projects have collected carcasses for examination.

Deficiencies:

Population demographics and prey relationships.

Management

Management Jurisdictions
AreaLegislationEnforcementAgreements
Ivvavik National Park IFA Parks Canada None
Hershel Island Territorial Park Yukon Wildlife Act YTG
East of the Babbage River National Parks Act YTG
Adjoining NWT NWT Wildlife Act GNWT

To meet conservation goals of the IFA, the co-management bodies are mandated to determine and recommend (to Yukon Government, GNWT and Parks Canada) a total allowable harvest and/ or promote research, if and when required.

The North Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Plan includes a chapter on the management of furbearers in the Vuntut Gwitchin Traditional Territory which lies to the south of the Inuvialuit Settlement region in the Yukon. http://www.yfwmb.yk.ca/comanagement/

Community-based Information

In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:

  • People described a widespread distribution, with more wolverine being found in the foothills and mountains.
  • Wolverine are not that numerous. Fresh tracks of solitary animals are seen about every 40-80 km of snowmobiling in April and May. No trend is apparent.
  • All but one of the spring bear hunters who were interviewed felt they saw more tracks west of the Babbage River.
  • The wolverine that are harvested are always fat.
  • Wolverine are using burrows a lot.

Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html

Related Literature and Information Sources

Cooley, D. 2005. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Jingfors, K. 1989. Wildlife of Northern Yukon National Park, Chapter 9 in: Northern Yukon National Park resource description and analysis. Natural Resource Conservation Section, Canadian Parks Service, Prairie and Northern Region, Winnipeg.

Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 - 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm

Maraj, R. 2007. Personal communication. Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) 1999. Yukon North Slope research review tables. http://www.taiga.net/wmac/researchplan/furbearers/wolverine.html

D, Cooley,. " Personal communication" Government of Yukon, Department of Environment. 2005

K., Jingfors,. "Wildlife of Northern Yukon National Park" Canadian Parks Service, Prairie and Northern Region Winnipeg 1989 ch. 9.