In 2004, Douglas Chadwick joined a 5-year wolverine study in Glacier National Park. In this book, he documents his time as part of this project. Chadwick documents the natural history of this remarkable animal and goes into detail about the experiment itself.
While reading this book, you are bound to fall in love with the wolverine. “Tenacious”, “vicious”, “a ball of energy”, “a glutton” are just some of the ways the wolverine has been described. Even with these descriptions, Chadwick argues for their protection. In the last several chapters, he talks about game management in relation to wolverines and other midsize carnivores. Chadwick does make the disclaimer that his purpose is not to argue one way or the other when it comes to hunting or trapping, but to “look more clearly into how we interpret nature and go about conserving it.”
Chadwick makes a very important point about how we manage prey species. Managers tend to produce hoofed animals, like deer and elk, in good numbers. Then, these animals are hunted. The idea is that if we don’t hunt, these herbivores will get “out of control”. Chadwick argues that nature tends to have its own game managers, predators and scavengers. Chadwick ends his argument this way:
“Managers may prefer nature neat and orderly – cropped and mown. But gulos depend on the flux and swirl in wild communities – the bulging out to the sides, the slop and the silver. As far as wolverines are concerned, there is no such thing as too many prey animals.”
There is also a PBS special about this extraordinary animal. Check it out.