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Rare wolverine spotted in Pacific County

Wolverines are uncommon in Washington, which is why conservationists are excited about several sightings from over the weekend.

A rare wolverine was spotted at a Pacific County beach – and researchers want to learn more about where it came from.

The wolverine was spotted over Memorial Day weekend, state Fish and Wildlife said. Photos submitted to the department show the creature travelling a road miles away, and feeding on what appears to be a seal on the beach.

“It’s another example of how amazing this species is at roaming,” said Mitch Friedman, of Conservation Northwest.

Fish and Wildlife believes the wolverine is a female and the department wants to get a DNA sample to learn more about it. Officials said it could have been passing through. Wolverines are known to cover dozens of miles of territory.

Wolverines are members of the weasel family and incredibly rare in the lower 48. They were widely wiped out years ago and are slowly staging a comeback in Western Washington, experts believe. Still Fish and Wildlife is only aware of about 20 in the state, mostly focused in the North Cascades.

The creatures have also been spotted as far south as Mount Adams and the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

MORE: Inside the lone known wolverine den in South Cascades

Wolverines are usually solitary but known to have a tenacious spirit.

Footage from the KING 5 archives shows a wolverine named Logan that was captured and tagged by researchers in the North Cascades. As it is tranquilized in the trap, it lets out a spine-tingling snarl. Once revived, it tackles the remote camera capturing its release, in a dark blur.

Friedman says it’s been exciting to watch the wolverines re-introduce themselves to Western Washington.

“And why they’ve chosen to come back on their own now, because nobody did anything to invite or prompt or remove them to get them here,” he said. “We could only speculate about what’s changed that’s made life better for them here so that they’ve come back.”

It’s believed there are only about 300 wolverines in the continental United States. Conservation Northwest is suing to get the animals added to the endangered species list.

RELATED: Judge asked to force decision on US wolverine protections

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Friedman said this sighting is another reason why they should be protected, and the wild spaces in which they travel. 

“Let’s take this as a hint from the wolverines,” he said. “They want to come back. Let’s do our part to help them.”

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