Scientific Name: Gulo gulo
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2014
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
Wolverines are a stocky, medium-sized carnivore and the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family. They have long, glossy coarse fur, which varies from brown to black, often with a pale facial mask and stripes running laterally from the shoulders, crossing just above the tail. The skull structure is robust, allowing it to crush and consume bones and frozen carcasses. Adult males weigh 13 to 18 kg and adult females weigh 7.5 to 12.5 kg.
This wide-ranging carnivore has an estimated Canadian population likely exceeding 10,000 mature individuals. Although population increases appear to be occurring in portions of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Manitoba and Ontario, declines have been reported in the southern part of the range, e.g. in British Columbia, and populations in a large part of the range (Quebec and Labrador) have not recovered. The species may be extirpated from Vancouver Island. Population estimates are very limited, and trends are not known. Most data are limited to harvest records, and harvest levels may be under-reported because many pelts used domestically are not included in official statistics. There is no evidence, however, of a decline in harvest over the last 3 generations. This species’ habitat is increasingly fragmented by industrial activity, especially in the southern part of its range, and increased motorized access increases harvest pressure. Climate change is likely impacting animals in the southern part of the range, and this impact is expected to increase northward. The species has a low reproductive rate, is sensitive to human disturbance, and requires vast secure areas to maintain viable populations.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species".
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2013 to September, 2014) from November 24 to November 29, 2013 and from April 27 to May 2, 2014. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 20
Data Deficient: 0
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 25 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments byApril 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 15, 2015, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website