Last sighted by fur traders in the late 1700s, the Michigan wolverine has made its appearance in the state once again—and not just as athletes at the University of Michigan.
The small but vicious member of the weasel family was spotted by coyote hunters 90 miles north of Detroit. While present-day sightings have been limited to northern Canada, Idaho, and Alaska, the Michigan sighting, confirmed by a wildlife biologist, marks the first in the state in over 200 years.
The appearance of the wolverine is unprecedented, and experts conclude that the animal may have traveled into Michigan, been released into the wild, or escaped captivity. The wolverine, also called carcajou and skunk bears, is the largest species in the family of weasels and more closely resembles a bear.
Though small and weighing up to 25 pounds, the wolverine has powerful jaws, thick claws, and a strength beyond its size. Wolverines have been known to ferociously attack prey larger than itself, including deer, caribou, and porcupines.
The wolverine was removed from Michigan's endangered species list in the late 1990s under the assumption that the animal wouldn't return to the state. In 2009, The Wildlife Conservation Society reported that researchers had tagged a young wolverine in Wyoming and tracked it for three months and over 500 miles while it crossed into Northern Colorado.
The world's wolverine population remains unknown.