PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two more rare wolverine sightings were reported around the greater Portland area after a wolverine was spotted in Portland near the Columbia River for the first time in more than three decades on March 20.
A second sighting was reported in Damascus by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on March 22, followed by a third sighting in Colton over the weekend. ODFW spokesperson Beth Quillian told KOIN 6 News that, due to the rarity of wolverine sightings in the greater Portland area, people are likely spotting the same animal.
“We do believe it is the same individual animal,” Quillian said. “Wolverines are rare and a threatened species in Oregon and it is unlikely that it would be a second individual in these sightings. The animal is likely dispersing to a new area where it can survive and hopefully reproduce.”
The closest-known wolverine population around Portland is located in Washington near Mt. Adams. While Mt. Adams is located roughly 70 miles northeast of Portland, Quillian said that a wolverine can travel up to 30 miles in a day, making it possible for a wolverine to travel from Mt. Adams to Colton in a week’s time.
“Covering the distance between the Columbia River and Colton in a few days would not be surprising,” she said. “Wolverines select high‐elevation habitats, alpine areas with dense snowpack— But young wolverines often disperse long distances, including across valley bottoms.”
The wolverine, Quillian said, is likely passing through inhospitable, developed areas on its way to find a more suitable home. Anyone who may come across the wolverine is asked to keep a safe distance from the animal.
“Maintaining natural areas and connectivity for animals to move across the landscape is vital to wildlife conservation,” Quillian said. “Any wildlife species is potentially dangerous or unpredictable if it feels trapped or threatened. If you see this animal, the best thing to do is to observe from a safe distance, give it room to leave, and appreciate that you had an extremely rare encounter.”