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LOOK: Scientists Spot Rare Wolverine in Sierra Nevada

Jul 26, 2016 06:27 AM EDT
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For the first time since the 1920s, a group of scientists have captured on video an extremely rare wolverine roaming in the Tahoe National Forest in Sierra Nevada.

The team decided to set up the cameras after receiving photos of unusual snow tracks from a field station, which they believe are from a wolverine, The Associated Press reports.

"They were definitely wolverine tracks," Wildlife Biologist Chris Stermer from the California of Fish and Wildlife told the Sierra Sun.

It was believed that wolverines have been wiped out in the early 1900s. However, in 2008, scientists have reported a sighting of the species but it's only now that it's been documented on camera.

Stermer believes that the one they documented is the same wolverine spotted in 2008, but they are waiting for DNA results from collected saliva to confirm it.

“I’m pretty certain--95 percent--that it’s the same animal,” Stermer said.

Nicknamed "Buddy," the wolverine is believed to have migrated from the Sawtooth Range located in Idaho. The two videos from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife show the carnivore scurrying away and climbing a tree to feast on a bait.

Stermer added that the presence of wolverine species in California is "exciting," but is extremely hard to spot because its nature is to "typically avoid people wherever they’re found."

“With the population we have in California, thinking that we can have a wild wolverine amongst us is pretty amazing. It really begins to restore our larger carnivores back in California," he added.

Wolverines in Danger?

According to the Sierra Sun, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have decided not to consider wolverines as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. However, a U.S. District judge has ordered a reevaluation of the decision after calls from scientists and various environmental groups.

Stermer said there have been plans for reintroducing wolverines in the wild after the FWS comes up with a new decision regarding the wolverine's status.

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