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Characteristics of Wolverine Reproductive Den Sites

Audrey J. Magoun and Jeffrey P. Copeland
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 4 (Oct., 1998), pp. 1313-1320
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801996
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801996
Page Count: 8
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Characteristics of Wolverine Reproductive Den Sites
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Abstract

Successful wolverine (Gulo gulo) reproduction may be linked to the availability and quality of reproductive dens sites, but little is known about wolverine reproductive dens, especially in North America. We present descriptions of wolverine dens in Idaho and Alaska, compare them to dens in other regions, and propose factors that may influence den-site selection. Our study includes 8 den sites used by 3 females over 4 years in northwestern Alaska and 7 sites used by 2 females over 4 years in central Idaho. We categorized reproductive dens of wolverines as either natal (used during parturition) or maternal (used subsequent to the natal den and before weaning). Dens in Alaska were usually long, complex snow tunnels with no associated trees or boulders. In contrast, dens in Idaho were always associated with fallen trees or boulders. All dens were covered with at least 1 m of snow. With few exceptions, wolverine dens described to date have been located in alpine, subalpine, taiga, or tundra habitat. Reports of dens in low elevation, densely forested habitats are rare. Factors which may have influenced selection of den sites included thermoregulatory advantages, protection from predators, suitability of the site during the spring thaw, and location of rearing habitat. We recommend managers consider limiting wolverine harvests and reducing human disturbance in wolverine denning habitat.

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