DRYDEN, ON — Forty years of trapping on his trapline 70 kilometres northeast of Dryden hardly prepared Randy Turgeon for a discovery he and a companion made last week.
"We were trapping for wolves and went and checked last Monday. I saw it and said to Mark, 'Oh, we got another wolf.' But I got closer and said 'Oh, that's not a wolf.' We couldn't believe it was a wolverine."
Turgeon said he had never seen the elusive animal before, but other trappers in the area have caught them on occasion over the years.
The largest member of the weasel family, wolverines usually live alone and roam hundreds of square kilometres of territory.
The animal has been described as looking like a small bear with a bushy tail, short legs and big paws with semi-retractable claws. Fully-grown, it is about as large as a medium-sized dog.
Wolverines are classified as a threatened species in Ontario.
Most of the estimated several hundred remaining animals in the province are found in the northwest boreal forest.
Although the species is protected under provincial regulations, and trappers are not allowed to pursue them, Turgeon said an "incidental" catch is not illegal.
"We took pictures of it in the snare to prove that it was caught in a snare, legally," Turgeon said. "If it's caught legally, you're allowed to keep one for your own purposes. You're not allowed to sell it."
Turgeon has received the required permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to retain the carcass. He plans to have it mounted and keep it at home with the rest of his preserved wildlife specimens.
He said MNRF personnel took measurements of the animal as well as a DNA sample, for research purposes.