Seeing a wolverine in California is a pretty rare occurrence. In fact, it’s only happened four times in recent years and it usually happens by remote camera. That’s why hiker David Messa was so surprised to see the rare creature running near a small lake in the Tahoe National Forest.
“Quite a pleasure to see something like that. You know, the first day, I actually saw a bald eagle. I thought, well, is the trip gonna get any better than this?”
Messa, who took the photo during a two-day hike in May, said that he spotted the wolverine running over a frozen lake.
“He was like a bull in a china shop running across that lake. He just probably feared nothing. He was kind of galloping; actually fell through the snow two or three times, turned around and came back, and came across in front of me. I was actually able to get a photo…. And I was just… You know, I’m pretty sure that was a wolverine.”
According to Fox 40, the wolverine is one of the rarest mammals in California. The last time it was seen was in 2008 by a motion sensor camera. Before that, there were only two documented sightings. Messa’s photo has been verified by Wildlife biologists with Fish and Game and the Department of Forestry.
Bill Zielinski, a research ecologist for the Forest Service, said that Messa’s photo proves that there are still wolverines in California.
“The conventional wisdom was that they were pretty much gone from California.”
In 2010, the Denver Post estimated that there were 212 wolverines left in the wild in the continental United States.