Wolverine: The Latest Furry Sensation

03/28/2008 02:46 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- A research project aimed at weasels has turned up a bigger prize: a picture of a wolverine, an elusive animal scientists feared may have been driven out of the Sierra Nevada long ago by human activity.

The discovery could affect land-use decisions if the wolverine is declared an endangered species, a step the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering, although the animals typically live at high elevations where there is limited development.

News of the picture surprised scientists, who thought wolverines, if they still inhabited the Sierra, would be found only in the southern part of the range, not in the Lake Tahoe area.

"The conventional wisdom was that they were pretty much gone from California," said Zielinski. "There's been a lot of other camera work and a variety of methods used to track rare carnivores. Those same methods, if wolverines had been around, would have detected them, we thought."

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