Wolverine appears, Hillside house cats start disappearing - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Wolverine appears, Hillside house cats start disappearing

As if human prowlers and burglars are not enough in Anchorage, a wolverine captured on a home security camera near 68th and Elmore Road in Anchorage showed a prowler of a different nature in a dense neighborhood: A wolverine.

The video made the rounds on NextDoor.com, a neighborhood-specific communication website.

The animal also was reported to have appeared a couple of blocks over, on 66th, and a woman said her cat was fighting it off when she intervened.

“A large wolverine tried to make my cat his dinner last night about 2 am. He was on my porch fighting w. My cat. I live Off of Elmore and 66th. I would highly recommend keeping all small pets indoors. He was not easily scared by my yelling and screaming,” wrote Torrie Ruhle, who has lived in the area for 10 years and never before encountered one.

Another neighbor said a wolverine was spotted two weeks ago near Cange Street and Huffman Road.

Dacia Davis said a wolverine had chased a friend’s cat in the area, and when her friend intervened, the animal hissed and snarled. “He said it was quite vicious.”

At the same time, several reports of missing cats have shown up on the communication thread, leading some to speculate that the wolverine is hunting them.

It’s a neighborhood where bear sightings are not infrequent, and where moose are common. Every so often, someone will report a wolf slinking through; there is a greenbelt nearby, and the neighborhood is not far from the Chugach National Forest.

Urban wolverines, however, are rare. They are more likely found in boreal forests and tundras, where they spend their lives hunting and scavenging. With their thick fur that resists frost, they were prized by trappers and thinned considerably, but their population has rebounded in North America. Alaskans trap and hunt about 550 wolverines annually, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Wolverine, photo by William Wood, Wikimedia.

They have a reputation for being solitary and ferocious, and with speed and musculature, they can take on prey far bigger than themselves. Wolverines been said to fight bears, but typically they’ll be hunting hare, voles, scavenging kill from wolves and bear, or just maybe in Anchorage, they’re now opportunistically hunting family pets.

Wolverines’ scientific name is Gulo gulo (Latin for “glutton”). They are the largest of the weasel family and have a strong glandular smell, which has earned them the nickname of skunk bear. Fish and Game says that the Chugach State Park is home to about 4.5 to 5.0 wolverines per 1,000 square miles in the Turnagain Arm and Kenai Mountains.

In Southcentral Alaska, female wolverines use about 115-230 square miles and males use about 270 to 380 square miles; female territories rarely overlap with other females, and male territories don’t overlap much either.

On the Fish and Game page devoted to “Living with Wildlife,” there are tips for living among bears, moose, wolves, and muskox, beavers, bats, and bison — but no tips for living among wolverines.

On NextDoor’s communication group for the Taku-Campbell area, Abbott Loop North neighbors are warning people to keep their small dogs and their cats inside at night.

[Read this Fish and Game report on the life of wolverines by Riley Woodford]

Have you had a wolverine encounter? Share it below!

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I ran into one this year in the Chugach. Believe it or not it was on the aptly named Wolverine Trail.

  • I’m a wolverine, and my hatred keeps me warm…..

  • I read somewhere that a GPS collared wolverine traveled 100 miles in a day.

    • Prized by trappers and thinned considerably! Totally wrong Suzanne! Wolverine are not a high population animal to begin with. Trapping has NOT been responsible for thinning there numbers. Wolverine habitat is what has changed as us humans have increased our numbers! If they are now moving into suburban areas it likely means their numbers are high and some are getting pushed into human habitat.

      • Prized by trappers? Very true! Considerably thinned? Absolutely true, if you consider they were almost added to the endangered species list just six years ago (trapping and poisoning were the main causes). Not a high-population animal to begin with? Also true. Habitat has changed? Maybe, but not so much in Alaska for the past 30 years. Moving into urban areas due to high numbers? Probably more likely they are learning where the food is. I rate the statements in this article “True.”

        • Being added to the endangered species list requires no special standing, this has become a political designation more than anything. Even black bears are on the list, as well as otter, lynx, bobcats, wolves, and a whole lot of other plentiful species. They are political ESA listings to anoint a species special consideration and hopefully ban the hunting and trapping of them, which is what some want. Just google ESA and learn.

  • “Have you had a wolverine encounter?” Of course! Those deviant little ‘disease-ridden’ rodents are all over Downtown Anchorage. Sleeping and carousing (drunk) in the parks, defecating and urinating at-will and all over, hassling the tax payers and tourists, and contributing to unlawful littering (trash). Oh(!?!?), that was the homeless and not the wolverines.

  • Your cat is gone but there is a logical reason, the wolverine was hungry and cat was in season.

  • “ They” blocked your bag ban entry this evening. I LOVED it!!!! It won’t open.

  • If we’re not careful America will be needing that vicious little beast in 2020.
    WOLVERINES

    • Go Michigan State!

  • Think the municipality’s ordinance concerning trapping may have something to do with this?

  • That is one bad cat … the one that fought-off the wolverine. No wonder the lady leaves the cat out at night … I wouldn’t bring that cat in during the day!!! He’s a bad dude … gato malo y feroz!

    Seriously, if a wolverine is on a “kill”, they will defend it “tooth & nail”, literally, “fangs & claws”! And they are ornery critters … almost as ornery as that dang cat!

  • Horrible scene. I’d be screaming in the dark. Enough to curdle neighbors’ tea! Eskimo men ( Inupiat) wear wolverine ruffs on their parka hoods. Wolverines are so tough, they don’t even catch frost on their fur! If one was in our neighborhood, we’d be super alert! Call AkFG. This is a critter to be transported!

  • No run-ins with worlverines, but plenty with cats! I rented out a place on hindsight should have been wary, the woman had 2 cats and when she moved out it reeked of piss! I had no choice but to rent it to the next ones who also had cats and didn’t indicate they could smell what I had been unable to scrub out. Now they were fine renters but the current one is a real mental headcase!! What is it with cat people? I will never rent any of my other properties to cat owners ever again.

  • Sympathies. They didn’t take care of their cats. Probably
    not themselves either. Never rent to someone with ferrets either! I learned the hard way.

  • I’ve had dogs and cats as my pets. You can kick a dog out of your house, or try to exile him. They always try to find their way back home. A cat will simply go find another home. Loyalty. That’s the difference. So what does that tell you about cat owners?

  • We need more wolverines in the city, Damn cats are supposed to be on leashes and controlled. Tired of them crapping in my garden.

  • In a former life I was a trapper, through my observations I found that wolverines are constantly on the move and they seem to have a pattern and or schedule for their travels. Meaning that this fellow might appear to be gone for a week or two but may then suddenly reappear.
    I also believe that there is way too much hunting pressue upon these anaimals. Fish and Game allows a hunter to harvest Wolverines in many GMU’s with a hunting license. This practice should be stopped.

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