Believe it or not, it's been 20 years since the first confirmed wolverine sighting in Michigan in over two centuries. That's right, our state's unofficial mascot (and the official mascot of the University of Michigan) made a single, dramatic return two decades ago in a sighting that made both state and national news. Let's rewind the clock to 2004 when a couple of coyote hunters stumbled upon a legend.

Michigan Flashback: Coyote Hunters Find Michigan's Lost Mascot

It's Been 20 Years Since a Wolverine Was Seen in Michigan
Animalogic via YouTube / Canva

In February 2004, in the quaint town of Ubly--about 90 miles north of Detroit--coyote hunters stumbled upon a sight straight out of a Michigan fairytale. They spotted a real Wolverine. No, not a U of M student-athlete, but the actual animal. This pint-sized powerhouse, a member of the weasel family, was seen running across a field, making history in the process.

Related: CONFIRMED Cougar Sightings: 43 Photos of Michigan's Apex Predator

Brad Wurfel, the then Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesman, confirmed the sighting then and said that the occurrence could only be compared to seeing a caribou or a polar bear in Michigan.

The Mystery of the Wolverines Journey: How Did It End Up in Michigan After 200 Years?

It's Been 20 Years Since a Wolverine Was Seen in Michigan
Animalogic via YouTube / Canva

The big question 20 years later is: How did a wolverine, not seen in Michigan in 200 years, suddenly appear in the state? Experts speculated that it traveled here, was released, or escaped captivity.

This scrappy creature was once on Michigan's endangered species list until the late 1990s, when it was removed because, let's be honest, no one thought it would return. Conservationists pushed to get the wolverine on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered list in 2000, but the agency opted not to pursue the study.

The Fate of Michigan's Last-Seen Wolverine

It's Been 20 Years Since a Wolverine Was Seen in Michigan

Sadly, the creature spotted over two decades ago is no longer alive, as its body was found by hikers in March of 2010. The wolverine was stuffed and can be viewed when visiting the Bay City State Recreation Area inside the Saginaw Bay Vistors Center.

Related: Every Animal On Michigan's State Flag Has Been Nearly Wiped Out

So, as we mark the 20th anniversary, let's raise a Faygo to the real-life wolverine that reminded us all that Michigan's wild side is as unpredictable as it is fierce.

CONFIRMED COUGAR SIGHTINGS: 43 Photos of Michigan's Apex Predator

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works with landowners and other agencies to track cougars in the state. Here's a look at confirmed photos of Michigan cougar sightings.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

Michigan Endangered Species List 2024

The Endangered Species List is much bigger than the couple featured below, but these are some you may have heard of but didn't realize were endangered.

Gallery Credit: Tommy McNeill

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