The Wolverine Way. By Douglas H. Chadwick. Viking, 2011. 384 pages.
Wildlife biologist Douglas Chadwick sums up wolverines in one word: Badass. A less than scientifically rigorous description, perhaps — but how else to describe a 30-pound weasel that wrestles food from grizzly bears and scales 12,000-foot peaks for a morning stroll?
Chadwick assisted researchers in live trapping and radio tracking wolverines in Glacier National Park, in a project designed to discover more about this mysterious, legendary animal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many wolverine tales are simply untrue. They’re ferocious, yes, but don’t destroy cabins as commonly portrayed in certain regrettable outdoor magazines. And they are not nearly as solitary as once believed. Due to their incredibly long journeys and propensity for rugged terrain, much of the wolverine’s life history remains a mystery. Chadwick takes savage delight in solving this mystery in unforgiving country, but he also laments the wolverine’s future.
As badass as the wolverine may be, it can’t fight receding glaciers, roads and ill-conceived trapping seasons. Do we have room to share parts of North America with wide-ranging giant weasels? In the end, Chadwick’s book spells out relatively simple solutions that can protect wolverines and other wilderness species — if society has the will and foresight. But even if you aren’t looking for a conservation plea, The Wolverine Way is still a great read, full of mountain adventure, scientific revelations and undeniably cool animals.
(Image: Wolverine on rock. Image credit: U.S. National Park Service through Wikimedia Commons.)