DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — A rare wolverine was filmed running across parts of the Great Salt Lake on Antelope Island Tuesday.
James Shook and Kyle Mays shared video and pictures of the wolverine to Facebook. The wolverine was spotted as the men looked south from the north end of Bridger Bay.
"This one has been on my bucket list since I was six years old," Shook said when reached via Zoom. “I have always. Since I was six, if you asked me which animal I could see if I could choose any, I would have said, wolverine.”
Kyle was visiting James from Oregon. The friends decided to visit Antelope Island on Kyle’s final day in Utah before heading home.
“I feel very lucky and kind of feel bad for the people that go out looking for this stuff and never see it in their life,” Mays said.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists traveled to Antelope Island Wednesday, but were unable to find the animal or possible tracks. However, DWR biologists confirmed that the video and photos appear to show a wolverine.
Wolverines are considered very rare in Utah, according to the state officials. The last confirmed live wolverine sighting in Utah was over seven years ago in Feb. 2014.
In 2016, biologists believed there were only between 250 to 300 wolverines in the northern Rocky Mountains.
"We don't know how many wolverines live in Utah," said Leslie McFarlane, mammals coordinator for the DWR, five years ago, "or if they're living here at all. They're elusive, have a wide distribution range and can travel long distances. A wolverine's territory can be as large as 350 square miles. They tend to move large distances within that territory."
It's likely the animal was migrating to a new home. Despite being fast, hard to spot and nocturnal, Kyle and James caught a glimpse that so many wildlife lovers long to see. It could be years before it ever happens again.
“This was something else. It’s just so rare,” Shook said. “It was probably just trying to get from one high mountain range to another. Probably just saw the snow-capped peaks and was headed in that direction.”
While not listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, wolverines are protected by state law in Utah.