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I set up the remote-download equipment and waited anxiously for F8's GPS data to be transmitted from her radio collar to my computer.
In mid-April I revisited F8's den. Wolverines have natal dens where they give birth and maternal dens that they move the kits to once they are bigger. It is not fully understood why wolverines move their kits to a new den, but conditions inside the den (e.g., humidity) likely play a role. In addition, a safe den for the kits is a top priority, and so intrusions in or near the den could also cause a move. When we returned to the den site, I could immediately tell that it was no longer in use because of the lack of wolverine signs. I put my ear to the den opening and there were no sounds from the kits. I felt guilty that we may have caused the wolverine to abandon her den and dig up another one somewhere else, and a bit overwhelmed at how impossible it seemed to study this elusive creature while minimizing disturbance. However, upon closer inspection, I could see that the snow had completely melted off the den's roof. The snowmelt exposed a few very small natural holes in the roof that probably seeped water and caused F8 to move her kits. We set up a motion-sensor video camera at the site and F8 showed up the next day.
She is likely denning in the area, but our attempts to find this new den have so far been unsuccessful.
Photo credits: Banner | Lila Tauzer © WCS Canada