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Wolverine (the animal, not the X-Man) makes rare appearance in California

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A fuzzy critter has been causing a stir in California this week. Wildlife experts have confirmed an ultrarare sighting of a wolverine.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "X-MEN")

KEVIN RUSHTON: (As Stu) I know what you are.

HUGH JACKMAN: (As Logan/Wolverine) You lost your money. You keep this up, you lose something else.

MALCOLM NEFSKY: (As Stu's buddy) Come on.

ANNA PAQUIN: (As Rogue) Look out.

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL SLICING)

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

No, sadly, not that kind of wolverine. We're talking about this kind of wolverine.

(SOUNDBITE OF WOLVERINE SNARLING)

SHAPIRO: Still menacing, but arguably cuter-looking than the mutant from "X-Men."

KELLY: Yes. Wolverines are the largest species of land-dwelling weasels - typically 20 to 66 pounds, about a foot and a half tall, long, fluffy tail. They look kind of like a small bear. Wolverines used to roam in California's Sierra Nevada range. However, they disappeared from the state in 1922 likely due to hunting and fur trapping.

SHAPIRO: Today, wolverine populations are found in cooler climates from Canada to Norway to China. The wolverine spotted in California is only the second confirmed sighting of the creature in that state in the last hundred years.

DANIEL GAMMONS: Yeah, we were a bit suspicious 'cause it's an awfully rare thing.

KELLY: Daniel Gammons is a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

GAMMONS: We've looked at claim sightings of these things before. And, you know, it turned out maybe it was a bear or a marmot or something, a mistaken identity. When we saw the video, we were just kind of blown away. Wow. That is, in fact, the real thing.

KELLY: Now, if you're wondering if the recent sightings might signal a wolverine resurgence in the state, Gammons says, maybe.

GAMMONS: It's certainly too early to say anything real conclusive, but it certainly raises the possibility that, you know, it may be possible here. But I think there's - at this point, there's a lot more questions than there are answers.

SHAPIRO: Well, if you're in the California wilderness, keep your eyes peeled. You might just catch a glimpse of this rare creature...

(SOUNDBITE OF WOLVERINE SNARLING)

SHAPIRO: ...Or hear one. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michael Levitt
Michael Levitt is a news assistant for All Things Considered who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science. Before coming to NPR, Levitt worked in the solar energy industry and for the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. He has also travelled extensively in the Middle East and speaks Arabic.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.

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