Michigan's Last Wild Wolverine a Victim of Budget Cuts?

photo wolverine michigan last wild
Taken June 2009. Courtesy Jeff Ford.

Michigan lost its last wild wolverine in March. State wildlife officials later said the animal, a female about nine years old, would be mounted and put on display at a state park. But that was months ago. What happened to plans for the display? It turns out the animal may never be seen again, because there's not enough money in the state budget to pay for it. What a shame, because this would be a good way to teach kids about the value of conservation, and protecting nature. Michigan has been called "The Wolverine State," and the University of Michigan uses a wolverine as its mascot. But real wolverines were extirpated from the state about 200 years ago.

Michigan's last (known) wild wolverine was found dead by two hikers, in the water near a beaver dam. A necropsy later confirmed she died of natural causes—congestive heart failure brought on by her age.

She had been tracked for years by a high school science teacher named Jeff Ford, who shot this video while she was still alive.

Michigan's Thumb Wolverine

According to The Bay City Times, "economic constraints have ostensibly halted previous plans to publicly display the wolverine." There also have been some turf battles over where the wolverine should be displayed.

A taxidermist was hired and the animal was to be put on display at the Bay City State Recreation Area's Visitor Center. But there were disagreements over that, and a traveling display was proposed. That traveling display would cost up to $15,000 (more than twice as much a regular old mount at the state park visitor center), a park employee estimates.

Either way, no wolverine for now. Budgets and bureaucrats are the culprit.

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