The wolverine and humans
A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF RESEARCH ON THE WOLVERINE has been carried out in North America, the Nordic countries and in the former Soviet Union. Yet, not much is known about this shy predator.
In North America, the wolverine has the reputation of being a burglar of food stores in the housings of lumber fellers or in hunter lodges. Moreover, the wolverine specializes in emptying the traps that Indians and trappers set up. This makes the wolverine particularly unpopular among the hunters.
It is relatively easy to follow the trails of wolverines in the snow as it leaves special and well recognizable marks. Hunting the wolverine was legally allowed until 1969 when it became a protected animal. After that year, illegal hunting has been found to take place in many instances. Single wolverines, that cause extensive damage to cattle owners, may nowadays be killed (protective hunting). This requires a special decision from Naturvårdsverket and must take place in cooperation with the local provincial authorities.
ON THE SNÖHÄTTEPLATEAU IN NORWAY much damage is believed to be caused by wolverines. Though at least 15 wolverines have been shot to death, during the years 1979 – 1995, the number of lambs killed per annum has not shown any decrease. “Hence” the Norwegian wolverine researcher Arild Landa concludes, “the killing of some single wolverines has little to no significance for the cattle owner.”
Is the wolverine dangerous?
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE of human beings having been attacked and wounded by free living wolverines. Only a few simulated attacks have been registered by researchers, while handling small cubs around the nest.
-“Under extreme conditions when we marked cubs, we have noticed aggressive behavior from the part of the mother animal” says Jens Persson, researcher from the SLU Umeå.
-“But I do believe, that most of the bigger animals would defend their cubs under similar circumstances. Even a house sparrow can become extremely loud when one tries to get close to their youngsters”.
FEMALE WOLVERINES OFTEN LEAVE THEIR CUBS when a being approaches their nest; they return soon after that the danger has passed. The Laps, being the Nordic people that during the ages have had most direct contacts with the wolverines do not consider the animal to be dangerous to humans.
Says Olof T. Johansson, reindeer owner from Tossåsen in the province of Jämtland: “No, we have had a permanent flock of wolverines around Tossåsens Lap village but we never had a wolverine attacking a human, and the same goes for what I have heard from other Lap people.