Officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are trying to include wolverines as threatened members of the Endangered Species List (there are only about 300 remaining in the lower 48 states), and they have five excellent reasons.
They are the tiniest known enemy of bears:
[They max] out at 40 pounds and [are] tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears.
They resemble bears themselves, but on a smaller scale, and eat fruit. They are tiny, fruit-eating bear manqués:
Fewer than 300 wolverines, solitary creatures said to resemble small bears with bushy tails, are believed to exist in the lower 48 United States, where they mostly inhabit the high country of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington state.
The reclusive animals, which eat everything from birds to berries, build their dens, reproduce and store food in areas with snow deeper than five feet in high-elevation environments unoccupied by humans and undisturbed by snowmobilers and skiers.
They are hungry and they are angry and they are non-stop runners:
Wolverines...are known for their cranky dispositions and voracious appetites.
They may cover more than a dozen miles a day across rugged terrain in search of food, believed to be the primary factor driving the animals' movements and explaining the vastness of their home ranges, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wolverine pups are nurtured in the icy bosom of snow caves:
Females give birth from mid-February through March in dens they excavate in alpine snow, typically using them until late April or early May.
There is exactly one wolverine in the entire state of Colorado:
While reintroducing the animals further south might seem counterintuitive, Inman said Colorado's abundance of 14,000-foot mountains would make it well suited as a refuge for the animals as warmer temperatures set in at lower elevations.
Only one wolverine currently inhabits the state, a male that wandered down several years ago from northern Wyoming's Teton Range, about 500 miles away.
[Image via AP]