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Shot of a lifetime: Calgary photographer captures wolverine on camera

Gordon Cooke set out to photograph osprey on Saturday and was surprised to spot a rare wolverine


This wolverine was photographed on Saturday in south Calgary. // Gordon Cooke

“I see things that other people will never see.”

That’s one reason Gordon Cooke loves photographing wildlife, and over the weekend the Calgary man had a very rare sighting.

Cooke has been a wildlife photographer for about 11 years. He works in IT as his day job and spends his free time snapping pictures of animals.

“No matter what is going on in my life, when I go out shooting, everything just seems to go by the wayside while I’m out there,” Cooke says, adding he loves getting out in nature because it’s a great stress reliever.

Wildlife photography is Cooke’s passion, and on Saturday he got the “shot of a lifetime”.

He initially set out to try to get some photos of osprey in south Calgary. Cooke came across some crows building a nest and started taking pictures of them.

“All of a sudden I heard this crash bang. It made an awful racket, I don't know if it was panic or someone scared it,” Cooke says.

Credit: Gordon Cooke

He couldn’t believe his eyes

At first, Cooke thought the animal might be a porcupine based on its silver markings, but quickly realized it was too big and too fast.

“Once it came out in the open, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at,” he says, especially since he was in the city.

“The whole time I'm just shooting pictures, no chance to check my settings at all, I'm just praying that they come out. Luckily they did.”

After unknowingly posing for a few photos, Cooke says the wolverine didn’t hang around for long.

“It seemed longer than it was, I bet you it was no longer than five seconds.”

Cooke doesn’t know much about wolverines but says they are very elusive and very hard to catch on camera.

“Many biologists who study wolverines have never seen one alive in the wild—including me,” wrote Aerin Jacob with Wolverine Watch in response to Cooke’s Twitter post.

Credit: Gordon Cooke

Wolverines are notoriously elusive

Sometimes called a “skunk bear”, wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family.

A document published 20 years ago estimated the wolverine population in the province to be “fewer than 1,000 breeding individuals.”

According to the Alberta Conservation Association, the animals are so evasive that information about them is difficult to obtain.

In fact, wolverines are considered “data deficient” in Alberta because there is simply not enough known about them.

That just goes to show how lucky Cooke was, and he is very pleased about his once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Wildlife is wildlife. Fur or feathers, makes no difference. I look more for the unique shot as opposed to the unique animal,” he says.

“In this case, I got both.”

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