The Wolverine

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Introducing in the red corner pound for pound the strongest and most powerful of the boreal predators….the Wolverine!

After our first few  nights with the wolves we travelled a few hundred kilometers to our second location in the hope of watching Wolverine. This is the perfect place to photograph this, the rarest  of Finland’s predators,  because no wolves visit  this location – making them bolder.

In contrast to the Grey wolf,  the Wolverine is solitary by nature. The largest of the Mustelidae family, it is perhaps the least known of the boreal predators. As well as being one of the most misunderstood. Just like the wolf it suffers from a very negative image. It  is regarded as “the worst enemy of reindeer keepers” and often depicted as a ferocious and having a voracious appetite in the Northern folklore.

As a consequence of these unfair and unfounded superstitions, the wolverine was hunted to near extinction in Finland before it was protected in 1982.  Listed as “endangered” in the Finnish Red List, their numbers have slowly increased. I was shocked to learn still that despite their recovery only about 150 individuals are located in Finland. Due to its elusive nature, low density and large dispersal ability it is very difficult to study.

In appearance the Wolverine resembles a small bear with a long tail. For its size it is incredibly strong. An adult wolverine is the size of a small dog.

Again we got incredibly lucky with  two or three visits from different Wolverines a night.

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It was wonderful to just see, much less photograph this rare and elusive predator. They are not easy to photograph either. Not only are they fast  but they seem to bounce around all over the place like a pinball. Think oversized stoats. Moving through the dense undergrowth you are never sure where they are about to poke their heads up. The air in our hide was blue!

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Our second night proved to be the best. We couldn’t believe it when a female turned up in good light at 8 o’clock in the morning just as we were about to pack up.

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She sat on a rock obligingly before grooming herself on a fallen log only a few feet away right in front of our hide. Mrs Wolverine seemed to have the same problem with mosquitoes as we did.

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Scratching that itch! She disappeared as fast as she appeared. And as she did, we caught a glimpse of her kits waiting for her at the edge of the forest.

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It was a perfect climax to a fantastic few days photographing this, perhaps the rarest and most remarkable of the Finnish predators. There was no time to dwell on it though as we headed to our third location to become re-acquainted with our final of the three boreal predators we had come to see and photograph. One that has become a very good friend to me, the Brown Bear. Next time….

 

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8 Responses to The Wolverine

  1. Peter says:

    Nice shots Jules, never seen so many Wolverine photos in one go and so close for that matter. Most shots from finland show them a distance away. You indeed are a lucky man.

    • jcoxfoto says:

      Thanks Peter. It was quite an experience. Such a privilege to watch this incredible and rare predator in such close proximity.

  2. Cliff Garratt (CBT) says:

    Hi Jules, I’ve never seen anything like those wolverine images before. Fantastic!

  3. Major says:

    Magic Jules.
    A must see if nothing else for me in the future.

    Major

    • jcoxfoto says:

      Thank you Major. You’re a gent. Absolutely, seeing a Wolverine in the wild is an experience that will remain with me always.

  4. Wonderfull images, Jules. :)

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