BURTON, Mich. (AP) – Michigan’s lone wild wolverine — the first confirmed since the 1800s — is taking a farewell tour.
The stuffed and mounted animal is hitting Monroe and the Flint and Saginaw areas in the new year before “retiring” at the Saginaw Bay Visitors Center at the Bay City State Recreation Area. Stops include the Courtland Center mall in Burton, Castle Museum in Saginaw and the Monroe County Historical Museum, MLive.com reported Friday.
The exhibit featuring the animal discovered alive about a decade ago in the Thumb region has been crisscrossing the state, including a stop at the Capitol. But park manager George Lauinger said the wolverine’s tour requires a special truck and other resources.
“It’s an enormous expense on our part transporting it and bringing it back,” he said.
Still, officials aren’t ruling out a coming-out-of-retirement command performance or two; Lauinger said the Department of Natural Resources could honor a future request for a tour or special museum exhibit.
Wildlife experts don’t know for sure how the female wolverine arrived in Michigan.
Wolverines are the largest land-living members of the weasel family. Until 2004, the last known Michigan sightings of wild wolverines were in the early 1800s. Their reputation as fierce hunters led to their selection as a mascot for Michigan and the University of Michigan’s sports teams, despite the state’s lack of native wolverines.
In 2004, coyote hunters spotted the wolverine about 90 miles north of Detroit. It lived primarily in the Minden City State Game Area in Sanilac County, where it was discovered by hikers in 2010. No others have been sighted.
Lauinger said it was a stroke of good luck that the animal’s body was found.
“When something like that happens, you need to come upon the body within hours of the death of the animal,” he said. “We were fortunate the body was found so soon after that.”
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