Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom
Full Episode

While legend paints the wolverine as a solitary, blood-thirsty killer, there is another, more complex image of the wolverine that is just beginning to emerge. This episode of NATURE takes viewers into the secretive world of the largest and least known member of the weasel family, revealing it to be one of the most efficient and resourceful carnivores on Earth. Buy the DVD. This film premiered November 14, 2010.

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  • Mick Natco

    As always you have entertained and enlightened and for that I commend you.
    But!
    The narrator is intolerable. I have commented on him in the past.
    I understand that he is highly regarded and sought for his “unique” style.
    He is awful.
    His constant “gee whiz kids, ain’t it amazing?!” style offends me.
    I am constantly distracted by his attempt to excite me with his breathless and astonished narration.
    So distracted that I am writing this as I watch.

    Please, please! Stop using him.
    Get someone, anyone else.

    Please

    Mick Natco

  • Pat in VT

    This was a terrific episode. We do have a similar critter in the lower 48 called the Fisher Cat. Many of the same attributes as the wolverine and in the same family, but about half the size. No less dangerous because they are close to or in settled areas of New England and the northern border states. Also similar to European Pine Martins. Hope you will do a story about them sometime. Interesting creatures those weasels!

  • Richard Davis

    Thank you for the terrific episode here. I missed the first half, so I am anxious to see the entire show. I disagree with the person who believes the narration is bad. I found it excellent. Keep the narrator and keep bringing us your excellent shows.

  • bill walker

    all i can is … AWSOME … thank you

  • Nicole

    did anyone catch Audrey’s last name was? She looks like someone I know a very long time ago…

  • pierre simard

    amazing episode.love it tank you

  • Doug Wescott

    I’m really enjoying this program. I was lucky enough to see a wolverine in 1975, the summer I worked at Glacier National Park. My girlfriend and I were tired from a day of hiking, and headed out from the Iceberg Lake trail, on a very lonely trail, heads down, when we came upon a man standing in the trail. We asked what was up, and he said there was a grizzly cub up above the trail in the krummolz. My heart sank, knowing we were in big trouble. I looked up, and about 30 feet away was a full grown wolverine, looking us over. I was somewhat relieved, but not much. It turned out the wolverine had been headed up the trail in the opposite direction, came upon the man, and detoured up into the krummolz, when we came along. We stood still, he continued his detour, and came back on the trail behind us, and continued his classic loping. The man said he was not concerned for his mother, who was behind us about a quarter mile: if they rounded a curve from opposite directions and ran into each other, there could be a problem. He and I ran after the wolverine, I trying to get a picture. The wolverine was not happy about being followed, and would stop periodically and look back at us. Pretty soon we could see the woman, standing still in the trail up ahead, and the wolverine making a detour up and above and around the woman. I was then thrilled to pieces to have seen a real life wild wolverine so closely.

  • Florian

    well, what can I say. judging by the reaction must have been a great episode. i do not get the region restriction though. it is not offending material, i tend to believe that it is scientifical and should be available to whoever wishes to see it. is the restriction in place at my end or at the source.
    thank you.

  • Karli

    Awesome Episode!! Loved every minute of it!!!

  • Corinna

    Enjoyed this very much…thought the narrator was great!

  • Tricia

    My son and I loved it! An amazing and thorough 50 minutes. We learned a lot. I thought the narrator did a fine job, not distracting in the least. Thank you for having these available on line.

  • Barbara

    Hey Pat in VT, we have wolverine here in the lowere 48 states, too, out in the “wild west:! :) Wolverines have been tracked traveling hundreds of miles through the North Cascades of Washington. I wrote a blog about scientific efforts to track them here: http://www.conservationnw.org/scat/do-wolverines-need-a-passport And of course, don’t forget to check out the Doug Chadwick book “The Wolverine Way”; truly amazing!!

  • Bill

    Agree about the narrator; OK for kids, maybe, but took me completely off-gaurd when he commented that the mom died immediately after delivering the 2 kits. He kinda cheapens the thing in my opinion.

  • Mr. Tirey

    @Nicole It was something like Magow? Magout?

  • Katherine

    Not the narrator’s fault. Check with the Director! I too thought the comment about the death of the mom came out of the blue. Quite shocking. Definitely needed more explanation. But other than that one misplaced comment, thought the program was fantastic – it really honored a wild and little-known creature, and I admire those who have become a little like wolverine themselves!

  • Jeanne

    What an amazing look into the life and temperament of the wolverine! Thanks for so much insight into this little known creature.

  • owen

    Go Blue!

  • Brian

    This is an amazing episode! I love the fact that my prime time viewing is online!

  • Gianna

    NICOLE — RE: the Audrey Q: Audrey’s last name is Magoun.

  • Ben H

    I thought this was probably one of the best episodes of nature ever. I only wish that there could have been more footage of wolverines but as we all know they are very hard to find. I loved the part when you finally get to see F4 after the researcher leaves. I thoughht that image of F4 going across the field was great. But I have to agree the narrator was terrible.

  • Jack N

    I’ve been watching nature programs for 55 years and never have I seen any better show than Nature’s, “Wolverine, Chasing the Phantom. ”

    I’m a native of the Wolverine State (Michigan) and live just a few blocks from the University of Michigan campus. University of Michigan’s sports mascot is the Wolverine. They have a magnificent bronze statue of a wolverine at the north entrance to Michigan Stadium – a fitting tribute to this indomitable creature. Oh, and one of the favorite chants of the Michigan football team is: It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine!

    It’s true what is said in the program: just knowing about these animals is enough to make you want to be a wolverine. I learned a few things along with those who watched: there was so little known of them before this program aired. Thanks Nature and thanks PBS: you’ve done a great job.

  • Dawn

    I have heard about wolverines but have never seen them. This was truly an eye opening and informative show. Kudos to those men and women who take the time out to bring us such information.

  • Gint

    Hey love nature videos and have always been a big supporter of public radio and television. I am tying to view this from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and for some strange reason it says I cannot view it because of some sort of copyright issues ? Anyway I can view this…?
    Thanks

  • Pam

    My only complaint about this wonderful episode is the absence of Native American perspective and interesting folklore about the wolverine. I know a few Alaskan Natives who have witnessed wolverine activities in the wild and these animals are fearless.

  • T.J.

    I think the Wolverine is an amazing creature. The most amazing thing I think about the Wolverine is that it could take down animals that are much more bigger than it, and that a man would take the time to make movies and raise Wolverines is a challenge that I dont think I could ever do.

  • Donna

    Thank you for these great films. I am a science teacher and love to use them with my lessons. This one fits into habitats and protecting and repopulating organisms that have become displaced. In this instance, the wolverine has become predominantly moved to Alaska. I hope that they can move back into the lower 48! I believe you want children to watch these, too, so those who think that narrator is good for children only, should just deal with the fact that it was not made just for them–very self-centered comments.

  • Tim

    Nicole, her name is Audrey Magoun, working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Fairbanks.

  • Wally

    This NATURE wolverine program was wonderful! I enjoyed watching this show. Thank you for showing the true nature of the wolverines!

  • javan kienzle

    What a superb program! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve sent the link on to several friends, who also found the program fascinating. Watching the wolverines was like watching otters play. Who would’ve thought it?!
    I asked a Native American who is an elder in one of the Michigan tribes if he was familiar with the wolverines (since they have been rare in Michigan ’s lower peninsula for some time) and his response was: “I shared the woods in the U.P. more than once with one.”

  • Nicole

    I’ve spent my entire life watching Nature programs (it debuted the month after I was born!) and I would say this might be hands down my favorite episode.

  • jerzy

    hellooo there i would really love to see this video. but i cant watch it due to flash player – the play button doesnt pop out. i already downloaded adobe flash payer 10 and it still wont play. i have windows

  • Mike

    Great video! Thank you so much for such an entertaining show. I truly wish there were more shows on North American animals.

  • J.P.

    Thank you for another episode about camera people that cannot seem to find their subject – it seemed to be leading up to a dramatic conclusion in which we would finally witness wolverine’s social behavior accompanied by the team leaders’ scientific analysis of the footage. Footage of which we had caught brief out of context glimpses during fast-paced narration that mainly focused on the camera people’s goal of filming wolverines, footage that I came to suspect either to be stock or taken of the captive wolverines.

    The researchers are brave and face the almost impossible challenge of filming wolverines’ behavior. This is difficult because of the wolverine’s scarcity and choice of habitat, not to mention the required sophistication and weather-proofing of equipment that would have enabled taking high-quality footage remotely for up to six months straight.

    The narrator sounds like he’s narrating an extreme reality TV show.

  • Marcel

    Very beautiful and interesting film about the wolverine !!

    If anybody like to see more wolverine footage you can do it on mine youtube channel.
    It is in Finland close to the Russian border !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHV_U_HE6I8

    And i had the opportunity to see a wolverine in the wild in Glacier Nat. Park .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaeIvpsd8iI

  • David

    Thanks for letting me see the ad before informing me that I cannot watch due to rights restrictions in my area.

  • J

    I can’t watch the full episode of “Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom”. I clicked on the image (”Watch Full Episodes”) page…a page with an image results…but there is no way to turn it on…( no arrow to start the video) any suggestions? Is it possible that the link is inoperative because the local PBS affiliate has not aired the program yet…or has delayed airing it, so they could air some hokie schlock fund raiser programming. I watch PBS, and contribute to PBS, for the regular programming…not for the painful and egregiously corny fund raising programming.

  • Joey Herz

    Agree with the commenter below me. the narrator is horrible. one of the most annoying voices ever.. only my mother in-law has a worse voice than this dude. he sounds like a mix of a person with a cold trying to take a hard dump.

  • thaddeushudson

    What a very good film. I learned things about wolverines that I never had any idea about. It has always been one of my favorite animals. I think they are as beautiful as they are hardy and addaptive. I loved how Steve Kroschel mothered and fathered those two beautiful little babies and the obvious love and respect he has for them. It took unending patience and dedication and I commend him for it. What a wonderful way to make a living by doing something you love and has such obvious passion for. Will there be another film? I sure hope so. I would love to know what happened to the babies he raised and if there are more babies to come. Wow, that looks COLD.

  • thaddeushudson

    I`ve just read some of the comments left by some of the people. What a shame they have to be so negative about something like the way someone speaks Though they have the right to express them, why would they want to hurt someone for being who they are? I found the voice of the guy talked about to be indearing and full of compassion and love for the wonderful animal that he obviously loves and the children seem to listen intently to him. We cant all be perfect or live up to everyones standards or how you feel I should be so, I think being myself is enough.

  • John M. Reynolds

    Astounding!! I couldn’t even take a break. What a creature the Wolverine is.
    I don’t get it; the narration worked fine for me. I was totally absorbed in the narrator’s words.

  • a

    is there any way you could put the whole episode of the seedy side of plants up?

  • Jennifer B.

    I loved this episode! It brought back all the memories and reasons that Nature inspired me to go into the field of Biology. I found the narration to be excellent and really enjoyed listening to his voice. Keep up the excellent work of inspiration and education.

  • maria

    I just love how nature reveals animals i didn’t even know for example I didn’t even know what a wolverine was and if it existed or not. Thank you nature Hope this show never comes to an end

  • Gustavo from PR

    Excelente episodio!!! loved it !!! The narrator was ok,nothing wrong in talkin about the mother’s death.That’s life ,
    you live you die, it is not written in stone. There was an absence of native american presence but also the title was “Wolverine: Chasing the phantom” that implies that someone or a group of individuals is chasing something they haven’t seen much at least. For native americans they’re much more in contact with nature and probably see them more often than non native americans. We indians know how to appreciate nature without interfering with it. Que vivan los Wolverines!!! Long live the Wolverines!!! Tainos 4ever…

  • John Polhamus

    This is the most moving nature programming that I have seen. My other two favorites are also of recent vintage, the Birds of Paradise, and the program on the Bald Eagles, but something about the undeniable paucity of visual and social information about wild wolverines, as well as the sheer bravado of an animal which every long winter goes out to meet the earth’s most frozen extremes head on and with such full-blooded determination, is an inspiration. The sight of the wolverine charging ahead like a one-animal army fills us with admiration and makes our own blood course in our veins. It makes us as humans want to be more than we already are, stoking the fires of our own determination not only to successfully survive and endure the worst that nature can throw at us, but to appreciate and admire the beauty of that survival and that endurance in ourselves and others. And an animal with such a capacity for play and for human/animal interaction possesses an intelligence which is belied by its fierce and omnivorous behaviour in the wild. I have watched this episode three times now, and I am always left teary with admiration, and with a renewed relish for meeting the challenges of my own life. Many thanks to the producers for raising our awareness of these four legged lessons in the art of living life to the fullest. Let us all set a foot upon the Wolverine Way.

  • Gary Vice

    Delightful! Great prose. Great photography. Great narration. And just downright fun. Thanks.

  • Mark Kellam

    It really sucks that I can’t watch this program in my “region”! Why are there “regional blockouts” on the WORLD WIDE Web!?! I live in Ontario, Canada and want to watch this program!

  • carly mn

    Over the years, we have seen two wolverines, both by our cabin about 35 minutes from Duluth, Mn. Unfortunately, one was a very tiny kit which had been hit by a car about 20 years ago. It was still alive but barely and died while we were with it. We have never forgotten our sadness seeing it, and we were surprised that a wolverine baby was so darling. We wondered if the mother was nearby watching.

    The other was a very large adult which loped across the same road in front of my husband’s car last year. So the two incidents were quite far apart, which makes us wonder if they are entrenched in the area.

    The DNR denies that they exist in Minnesota. However, we’ve heard of other sitings.

  • karl z

    I dislike the new narrator for Nature. The narrator for the show about wolverines to be precise. According to what I’ve found, his name is Craig Sechler. I don’t care for his voice and find it annoying. Thanks

  • judith fester

    The most informative and entertaining nature film I have ever seen anywhere.
    Who cares about the narrator. It is the purpose of this episode to inform and
    entertain. As a lover or animals and nature, I deem this first class. I’d watch
    it again and again. Thanks PBS…….

    PS who cares about the narrator

  • rich

    This was a terrific show, fascinating. Beautiful animals. We’re sending a copy to our 5 year-old grandson in NYC. Several years ago, in late October, while crossing the coast range pass ( 1200 feet, a logging road) from Nashville, Ore to Logsden, Ore, to fish for steelhead on the Siletz River, I saw a wolverine walking along the shoulder of the road, about to disappear over the edge and down the mountain-side. At first I thought it was a bear cub, but then noted its tail and the telltale walk, plus the pelt. And then it was gone. It’s the only one I’ve seen in the wild. There have been a few other reported sightings from out this way, even though the coast range are low mountains with usually no permanent winter snow cover. Thanks for the show.

  • Ed

    As a contributor to the Glacier Fund, I was approached for a donation to this radio-collaring program. I refused. I appreciate the efforts of Yates and the others, but I am sickened by the way we have to “know” all about nature. The idea that gullo has to run around with a collar on upsets me no end. Leave something wild, and alone please.

  • Pat

    I have learned a lot about an animal I have hardly known. Thank you so much for all the information and the beautiful photography.

  • Cory

    I truly enjoyed this…I wish you would do one on the honey Badger…

  • John

    I am a science teacher and parent of six kids & thought this episode was entertaining, informative, fascinating, intriguing, & gripping. Not just for my own kids or school kids but for myself! What an adventure to track such an animal! I wonder how many researchers are former U of M grads? Anyway it was perfect for me and I want to encourage you guys to continue the adventures! Sorry for anyone criticizing.

  • Jon T

    Didn’t have a problem with the narration which is essential to the story telling, and includes kids in the audience. The landscape is just spell binding, and the ‘pets’ quite amazing. The one he ran down after all that time was still tame with him and playful. Quite an amazing story, set in a wondrous landscape with a excellent cast of people and animals, beautiful photography, total enjoyment. Thank you for bringing this to us from a wilderness few of us could survive in for even a day.

  • Roger White Jr.

    Great episode… very informative…. nothing wrong with the narration…enjoyed it fullly

  • bryan in montana

    these animals are amazing and are one of the many reasons that i live in the big sky country of montana.

  • bryan in montana

    if you want to observe the wolverine and its cousin the badger, come to Georgetown Lake in montana. I was raised in the area and my family has a cabin on the lake. You can see badgers, wolverines, moose and even bald eagles from the front deck. it is the most beautiful and serene place i have ever been to.

  • Mark G. in Boston, Mass.

    Thank you P.B.S., and Nature producers, for such an informative and entertaining piece of work. I learned a lot from this episode on these fascinating and resilient creatures called wolverines. I am envious of the beauty in Alaska, both the animals and the people are surrounded in, and grateful to have P.B.S. bring it to me. Inspiring, educational, CLASSY programming. Keep up the great work. Thanks again.

  • judi

    Too bad such a wonderful show and people can actually be negative about the narrator ?
    Anyways what I find very upsetting and no one has commented yet was the fact about the decline of the glaciers and in twenty or so years wolverines will need to find be finding a new habitat. Great program and how awesome the volunteers who continue to research this incredible animal. Thanks for airing such an incredible program PBS.

  • Paul (Age 6

    I like it a lot and I think wolverines are very good at running around and playing.

  • Paul (Age 6)

    Wolverines are very cool. I like it when they run around and play a lot.

  • Drats

    Incredible footage of Wolverines! Thank you. I would agree that I have never liked sensationalism, whether it be dramatic music or overblown narration (i.e. The shark appears and electric guitars go wailing). It would be nice to have less drama in the narrator’s voice, and less humans in the shots all together. This show was still great and I wouldn’t replace the narrator, just give him a little less coffee before the recording session.
    I know humans are everywhere and part of the story, but even when dealing with remote creatures, there seems to be a homocentric bent to Nature programming now. The producers should strive to leave humans out as much as possible, and just have short glimpses of the scientists when absolutely necessary (like when the guy was raising them, or when the researchers set the trip cameras). More wildlife, less Homo sapiens please. Thank you.

  • Nate in Wisconsin

    Wonderful program, given the scarcity of wolverine video. Such a treat. I wish more attention had been given to the wolverine sightings in former habitat in the lower 48, however–to me, that is exciting and fascinating. Also, a reference was made in the show to the trapping of wolverines–where, why, and how that is legal would have been very interesting.
    PS–I thought the narrator sounded a lot like the male voices that narrate those “10 Most Deadly Animals!”-type shows on cable TV.

  • jamie in Canada

    Wish we could watch this here in Canada!!!

  • Anna

    Thank you so much! I learned a lot and I grew up in the woods of Minnesota!

  • Dan Schultz

    I recently photographed a wolverine twice, on Nov 18th 2012, during the gun deer season, once leaving my gut pile from a deer kill day prior & then again as he stood under the tree I was in directly under me, this took place in Vilas county, Wisconsin

  • Wendy Lucka

    Thank you so very much to the teams that filmed this. In was going to watch just a little of it and found that I could not shut it off as I wanted to see whatever was coming next.
    I hope they are protected from hunting. Thanks again!

  • Marilyn Leybra

    Thanks PBS for film. Dislike the idea of haunting & collaring wildlife but on the other hand do like having more insight on this beautiful elusive animal. In any case, since State of Montana Fish & Game allows 5 wolverines to be trapped annually for slaughter, a radio collar is a lot less obtrusive than that.
    Does trapper eat the meat, have the head mounted, sell the fur? I’ve yet to see a wolverine fur coat for sale anywhere so perhaps they’re trapped for pleasure or just because it’s legal to do it in Montana.

  • Maggie Frazier

    Wonderful video – really so enjoy actually seeing these animals in their own environment. Cannot even imagine how great it is to be close to & care for them – like the orphaned kits – amazing. What does he do with them when they become adults – is it possible to set them free? Or must they always be taken care of.
    Thank you so much – love these programs.

  • Mason Higgins AGE 8

    Wolverines are so cool because of their sharp claws and sharp teeth.
    And it’s awesome that they live in the tundra and in Canada.
    Like the real XMEN wolverine.

  • Len Hjelmeland

    Well . .also too bad that us SUPPORTERS .. in Canada …. are not even allowed to watch your videos !!! How the hell you expect us ‘defenders of wildlife’ up here to continue to support you .. if you won’t even give us access to your on line videos ??????

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