John Harrigan's Woods, Water & Wildlife: Wolverines, Ice Age relic, discovered in North Country
HUMORLESS wildlife experts and a gullible public are being rocked this weekend by the announcement that remnants of the wolverine, long thought extinct, have been discovered in the remote vastness of northern New Hampshire.
“It ran straight for us, huge jaws lowered,” said breathless trapper Joe Conibear, who was rescued by passersby as he crawled, clothing in tatters, from a fetid swamp. Actually, he explained, it was more of a hillside seep from a perched water table. “We don't have fetid swamps around here,” he said. “Those are in Mesopotamia.”
Although wolverines probably were around here once, like the muskox, they had long been considered extirpated, which is a pointy-headed way of saying “gone” — but not “finally gone,” as in “never coming back,” but more like “just gone from the immediate neighborhood.” Woodland caribou, for instance, are gone, but are really elsewhere (Alberta).
For New Hampshire's beleaguered wildlife officials, the news about the wolverines was like a bad dream come true. “First the cougar, and then the wolf,” said Heza Reeda, chief of the Extirpated Species Worst Nightmare Section in the Fish and Game's Division of Spoils, holding his head. “I just got back from rediscovered formerly native species counseling and now this.”
Wolverines, for those lucky enough never to have come upon one because anyone who has never forgets it, let me tell you, bub, are the largest member of the weasel family. As such, they combine all of the fetching attributes of the lesser weasels — snarling, spitting, blood-lust, frenzied killing, going straight for the jugular and so on — into one large, gorgeous specimen. It also bears mentioning that, to quote longtime Far North trekker Norton Kelley, “They're so damned mean they walk along with their heads lowered and swinging from side to side, biting the ground.” Also, they have a well-earned reputation for being so greedy and jealous of any food they find that they urinate on it so nothing else can enjoy it. “And boy, can they make a mess of a good camp,” Kelley added.
At a hastily called news conference, Fish and Game officials said they were asking for federal help in assessing the wolverine discovery, noting that “federal dollars are always good, no matter what they're for, even wolverines.” The House Ways and Means committee, meanwhile, demanded calling out the Guard, noting the committee has authority because the wolverine has “ways” to be “mean.”
Tourism officials, meanwhile, said they did not think the discovery will scare off visitors. “We'll issue telephoto lenses because it's not good to get too close — and maybe full-body armor.”
John Harrigan wishes his readers a happy April Fool's Day. Email him at email@example.com.
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