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Wolverine found dead along I-90 proves to be valuable for Washington scientists

Research suggests there are only 15 to 20 wolverines in Washington state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A wolverine found dead along I-90 over the Snoqualmie Pass could help educate the public about the environment for years to come. 

A truck driver spotted the animal in June 2018 while trying to cross the interstate just west of the Snoqualmie Summit. 

Dr. Jeff Lewis, a biologist with the Washington Fish & Wildlife Department, spearheaded the move to get the wolverine skin stuffed and the animal's carcass preserved this summer.

He also named the wolverine Bandera. 

“That’s among the wildest of the wildest things,” said Lewis.

Wolverines live in the remote mountainous areas of the Cascades and in northeastern Washington.

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Lewis said research suggests there are only 15 to 20 wolverines in the state. 

A population of 13 wolverines has been studied in the North Cascades from 2005 to 2013, and wolverines have recently been seen near Mount Adams and in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the South Cascades, according to WDFW.

While state researchers trap, track and study those in the wild, having one in state custody, even if it's deceased, will be valuable to scientists concerned about the species.

Lewis said wolverines are close to being considered endangered. 

“As things are changing so fast we need to be able to be really nimble to learn what we need to know to conserve these things more efficiently,” said Lewis.

He hopes students will be able to see the wolverine in a public setting soon.

“You want people to care about wildlife,” said Lewis. “He [the wolverine] makes it real easy to care about wildlife.”

RELATED: Inside the lone known wolverine den in South Cascades

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