Wonderful, wandering wolverines

I watched a fantastic Nature special on PBS this week about wolverines. I always thought of these critters as small bears with exceptionally angry attitudes. But they’re actually quite fascinating.

First off, the wolverine is a weasel, not a bear. They’ll kill and eat deer, small bears, and rodents; meat scavenged from a carcass makes a tasty dinner too. And these guys are the ultimate travelers. A lone wolverine in Scandinavia will claims up to 600 km (373 miles) of territory.

But what I found most interesting was the researchers who study these creatures. They ski for miles in the Canadian backcountry, waving radio receivers and hoping to pick up a signal from a tagged wolverine. Talk about challenging and solitary work. What drives these scientists?

Doug Chadwick, author and wolverine enthusiast, puts it best:

Like most of the guys on the project, what I really want to do is just be a wolverine. I want to go where I want to go, do what I want to do, bite who I want to bite, and climb what I want to climb.

Two simple sentences reveal much about this man and the creatures he loves. Quotes like that make me excited to be a science writer, to speak with those who are so passionate about their work, and to learn about the world around me.

Here’s a video teaser for the Nature special. I highly recommend watching the entire episode.

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