Canada’s most dangerous predators
Photo by Anna Yu
"Wolverine" descends from a German term meaning "devours much," and the name is certainly fitting. Wolverines are omnivorous animals, eating nearly anything they comes across—berries and seasonal fruit, to small mice and birds, to moose and caribou. So how does an animal weighing, on average, only 15 kg, prey on a caribou? Wolverines can run up to 24 km an hour and have very sharp teeth and claws.
There are few documented cases of wolverine attacks on humans. A small number resulted in death, but many resulted in severe injury—wolverines can cause a lot of damage. Their front teeth are long and sharp, and their back teeth are rotated at a 90 degree angle, making tearing flesh easy, even from frozen carcasses. Their jaws are capable of crushing the bones of their prey—primarily to suck out marrow. Wolverine's claws are semi-retractable and they have very large paws, which act like snowshoes. And they're sneaky: wolverines hunt by climbing trees and pouncing on the backs of their prey.
Wolverines are the size of medium dogs and have been described as looking like skunks or a small bears. They're difficult to spot as they travel alone and are shy. Their frost-resistant (often brown) fur have made it a desirable hunting animal. This in combination with increasing human impact on its natural habitats has placed the eastern wolverine (of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador) on Canada's endangered species list. The western wolverine (of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario) is currently listed as threatened.
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