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Father and daughter, 9, spot rare wolverine on first trip to Yellowstone


A father and daughter spotted a rare wolverine on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ visit to Yellowstone National Park this weekend. 

Carl Kemp and his daughter Maya, 9, were enjoying a ‘magical’ day on a Yellowstone Insights tour when they spotted the animal their guide called ‘more elusive than a sasquatch’ wandering in the roadway. 

Just six wolverines are still living in the park, including the one Carl and Maya Kemp saw. It is believed to be the eighth sighting in the last 15 years.

‘It was really magical to see,’ Maya told KTVQ. ‘Dad said that it was like the unicorn of Yellowstone. It was insane.’ 

MacNeil Lyons, owner of Yellowstone Insights, a touring agency, recalled the moment he and his tour group spotted the wolverine in a rare sighting around 11.30 a.m. on Saturday. 

‘We felt beyond elated at this chance encounter with this elusive creature,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘My guest said out loud, exactly what I was thinking: “Is that a bear?” For a hot second, we both thought that it might be a young black bear moving away from us, but as it turned and looked over its right shoulder towards us – there was no mistaking that the animal was indeed, a Wolverine!’ 

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The furry animal was seen running across the snow-covered road in Yellowstone National Park

Carl Kemp and his daughter Maya, nine, (pictured) were enjoying a 'magical' day on a Yellowstone Insights tour when they spotted a wolverine wandering in the roadway. It is believed that only six wolverines are left in the park

Carl Kemp and his daughter Maya, nine, (pictured) were enjoying a ‘magical’ day on a Yellowstone Insights tour when they spotted a wolverine wandering in the roadway. It is believed that only six wolverines are left in the park

The duo commemorated their special treat with a picture in front of the park's sign. 'It was really magical to see,' Maya told KTVQ . 'Dad said that it was like the unicorn of Yellowstone. It was insane'

The duo commemorated their special treat with a picture in front of the park’s sign. ‘It was really magical to see,’ Maya told KTVQ . ‘Dad said that it was like the unicorn of Yellowstone. It was insane’ 

What was even more ‘amazing,’ he said, was getting to share the moment with Carl and Maya on their first trip to Yellowstone. 

‘For the rest of the tour, the nine-year-old daughter couldn’t stop saying, every 15 minutes or so: “Wow… we saw a wolverine today!” She told me it was the most amazing day ever in her life.’ 

Carl said he knew the moment Lyons picked them up at 6.30 a.m. on Saturday that they were in for a good day after seeing a ‘cottontail chilling on the side of the road.’ 

‘As soon as we entered the park, we saw the Wapiti wolf pack chasing a pronghorn, and shortly thereafter saw them very near the roadside,’ Carl wrote on Facebook. ‘Throughout the day, our guide (and new friend for life) MacNeal Lyons put us on bison, rare songbirds, mule deer, elk, mountain goats, golden eagles, big horn sheep, a black bear in her den, and more! But a WOLVERINE!? I never even dreamed it was possible.’

The wolverine was spotted in the park around 11.30 a.m. on Saturday and is believed to be the eighth sighting of one in the last 15 years

The wolverine was spotted in the park around 11.30 a.m. on Saturday and is believed to be the eighth sighting of one in the last 15 years 

The animal climbed along the snow banks as he checked out the group of tourist before heading for higher ground

The animal climbed along the snow banks as he checked out the group of tourist before heading for higher ground 

‘Their range is typically more northern and the only creature more elusive than them is [a] sasquatch.’ 

Carl shared a video of the wolverine sighting on his YouTube page and can be heard telling his daughter to ‘be quiet’ as the fluffy animal traverse the snow bank. In the footage, the small animal sits in the snow and observes the tour group from afar before playfully running in the snow-covered roads. Eventually the animal heads for higher ground and the group stopps to check out its tracks. 

‘[It] left us all with a memory we will never forget,’ Carl wrote on YouTube. 

‘It was only 2-3 minutes, but it was as if time stood still. There was, for sure, a true and focused connection between two sentient beings,’ MacNeal told For The Win

In January 2021, Yellowstone excitedly announced it had spotted one of its ‘rarest mammals’ after another wolverine triggered a trail camera outside of Mammoth Hot Springs area. It was the first footage caught of the animal in the park. 

MacNeil Lyons, owner of Yellowstone Insights touring group, took the photos of the rare sighting and said he was 'elated' to see the creature

MacNeil Lyons, owner of Yellowstone Insights touring group, took the photos of the rare sighting and said he was ‘elated’ to see the creature 

Wolverines are small mammals that are a part of the weasel family and reside in high-altitude alpine and forest areas. The animal can weigh up to 30 pounds and typically preys on small animals, like birds and squirrels. They also eat vegetation, like pine nuts. 

Despite their small size, wolverines can be aggressive and are capable of killing animals that are many times their size, like a bear. 

Wolverines are found in snowy areas and typically den in deep snow or beneath fallen trees. 

The animal was listed as a threatened species in February 2013, but that has since been placed on hold as of October 2020.

The U.S. fish and Wildlife Service said the withdrawal from the list is ‘based on our conclusion that the factors affecting the species as identified in the proposed rule are not as significant as believed at the time of the proposed rule.’ 

The fuzzy creature is nonetheless protected by law in Wyoming. Much of Yellowstone, which covers three states but resides Wyoming, would be included. 

‘They’re still considered a species of great conservation need and they’re actually protected by law in Wyoming,’ Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Zack Walker told Cowboy State Daily

‘More elusive than a sasquatch’: Everything you need to know about wolverines, Yellowstone’s rarest animal

A study done in 2016, estimated that were only around 300 wolverines living in the United States, and even fewer in Yellowstone National Park, where only around six live. 

The solitary animal can weigh up to 30lbs, but can kill animals – like bears – that are many times their sizes. 

The fuzzy animal typically eats small prey, such as birds and squirrels, as well as pine nuts. 

Wolverines were listed as a threatened animal in February 2013, but that was placed on hold by the US Fish and Wildlife Services in October 2020 after it discovered the animal’s risk was not as ‘significant as believed at the time.’ 

Source: US Fish and Wildlife Services, Cowboy State Daily, For The Win



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