UPDATE: We have received word that Mike Miller is no longer with the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the center is no longer pursuing this project.
A wildlife center in Alaska has proposed to train wolverines to help find avalanche survivors. According to the center, Wolverine’s super sense of smell allows them to locate animals 20 feet below the snowpack.
Locating and digging out avalanche victims is instinctive for the animals who often scavenge for dead animals killed and buried by slides.
Cover Image by Pekka Isomursu
Mike Miller and Steve Kroschel, two men from Alaska who work with wolverines, believe the animals could be trained to locate avalanche survivors.
With extra endurance, strength, and an extremely sensitive sense of smell, Miller and Kroschel see a huge advantage over the retrievers or bloodhounds used by search and rescue parties today.
“Anything you can train a dog to do, you can train a wolverine to do, five times quicker,” Miller told Outside.
Wolverines are also able to scale terrain that would be impossible for a dog and would require professional climbing equipment for rescuers.
Miller believes that by training wolverines to locate avalanche victims is a calling, “It gave me a higher purpose to have a wolverine and to train it,” Miller says. “It’s not like I want it to ride a bike or a pogo stick.”