Wolverines May Be Returning to California’s Mountains

California’s mountains were once teeming with wolverines, a carnivorous cousin to minks and badgers but that more closely resembles a long-tailed, diminutive bear. Fur trapping, hunting and poisoning saw their numbers collapse; they largely disappeared from the state a century ago. Wolverines are still relatively common in the wilder regions of Canada and Alaska. And they are considered threatened in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Montana. Other than an occasional long-distance traveling animal, though, their populations have never recovered in California. This year, I introduced Assembly Bill 2722 in the hopes that California’s wolverine population might be brought back from the edge.

Knowing their extant status, California has long had protections in place. Wolverines were designated as a fully protected species under the Fish and Game Code in 1970 and listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act in 1971. The truth, however, is that these protections and the later federal protection established under the Endangered Species Act in 2023, came too late. California has no wolverines known to permanently reside in our state. Though, to much fanfare, two male wolverines crossed into California from neighboring states in recent years with one taking a very well-documented journey through Yosemite before leaving California once again.

Wolverines once played a significant ecological role in high-elevation ecosystems in California. Unlike many species that are imperiled due to habitat loss, wolverine habitat is high-altitude, snowy climes, and largely intact and protected in national parks and wilderness areas, areas where there is no likelihood of conflict with human development and agriculture. Restoring the wolverine to these areas can help enhance ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change. While existing law has successfully addressed trapping and the fur trade, restoring a viable population of the species will require a reintroduction program.

AB 2722 is not a full-scale reintroduction program, but it is the first necessary step to make reintroduction happen. AB 2722 directs the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a feasibility study on a potential reintroduction program, with the end goal of re-establishing a viable population of the species in California.

California is one of 36 global biodiversity hot spots due to our wide variety of plants and animals, and the threats posed to our fragile environment. While we also lead the nation in wildlife and habitat protection, some of our most iconic missing species will only return to the state if we make the affirmative choice to bring them back. The wolverine belongs in California. This bill is a crucial first step to not only restoring wolverines to California’s mountains, but it will act as a guidepost for future legislation intended to restore other animals on the brink of extinction and better protect our critical biodiversity.

What are your thoughts on AB 2722? As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on our budget, legislation, or any general comments or concerns. You can reach my District Office at (818) 558-3043, or by email at:

Assemblymember Laura Friedman