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'The unicorn of Yellowstone' - father and daughter spot elusive wolverine

Posted at 3:39 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 19:22:38-05

GARDINER – Yellowstone National Park has a reputation for being a place of wonder and beauty.

However, America’s oldest national park still has wildlife rarely seen by humans.

A father and daughter from California encountered a wolverine during their visit to the park on Saturday, March 5. Carl Kemp and his 9-year-old daughter Maya were touring Yellowstone with Gardiner-based 'Yellowstone Insight' when they found the animal in the middle of the highway near Soda Butte Creek between the Lamar Valley and Cooke City.

“It was really magical to see and dad said it was like the unicorn of Yellowstone,” said Maya Kemp.

Biologists estimate there are only about a half dozen wolverines in Yellowstone at any given time, so sightings are far and few in between. In fact, there is only one documented still photograph of a wolverine in Yellowstone and that picture was taken decades ago. A trail camera did capture a video of a wolverine in the park in January of 2021.

MacNeil Lyons is the guide who was accompanying the Kemps when they encountered the wolverine. Lyons says he’s only seen a wolverine in Yellowstone once prior to Saturday’s encounter, and that was through binoculars from more than a mile away.

“I’ve been wondering what’s next because this is kind of like the top animal to see in Yellowstone National Park. That’s why I’m still kind of in awe. I don’t know what to say about it,” Lyons said. “It was truly one of those magical moments. I don’t know how to describe it. We were both speechless at the time.”

Not only did the group see the wolverine, they also encountered wolves and a bear during the outing.

After encountering so much wildlife, it comes as no surprise the Kemps are already planning their next trip to Yellowstone National Park, even though they know this visit will be impossible to top.

“We were riding that high all the way for the rest of the trip. We didn’t want the trip to end, but we couldn’t wait for the trip to end to tell everyone about it,” said Carl Kemp.

Watch the video below:

Video: Wolverine spotted in Yellowstone National Park