A wolverine was spotted in three different locations in California last month – the second sighting of the animal in the state in the last 100 years, officials said Thursday.
The wolverine was spotted in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, the Inyo National Forest in Inyo and Mono counties and in Yosemite National Park in Tuolumne County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a news release.
Witnesses captured images and videos of the wolverine, taken in May, and sent the evidence to the wildlife department who consulted with experts from the U.S. Forest Service.
Scientists identified the animal as a wolverine by its size, body proportion, coloration and movement patterns, the wildlife department said in the news release.
“Wolverines can travel great distances, making it likely that the recent sightings are all of the same animal,” CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Daniel Gammons said in the release. “Because only two wolverines have been confirmed in California during the last 100 years, these latest detections are exciting.”
The wildlife department plans to collaborate with the National Park Service to collect genetic samples – found at feeding sites – from the wolverine through hair, scat or saliva.
Second wolverine sighting in last 100 years in California
The wildlife department field teams confirmed the wolverine's locations through coordinates embedded in the photos and video.
The last wolverine sighting in California was from 2008 to 2018. The wolverine was discovered in February 2008 in the Truckee region of the Tahoe National Forest, the wildlife department said.
“The recent detections were likely of a different wolverine given that the species’ lifespan is typically 12 to 13 years,” the wildlife department said.
Prior to that, the last confirmed wolverine sightings in the state was in the 1920s.
What is a wolverine?
Wolverines are the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. They resemble a small bear and are mostly located in Canada and Alaska with smaller populations in the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, wildlife officials said.
In California, wolverines are listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act and are classified as fully protected.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California wolverine sighting is 2nd one in last 100 years