David Messa, Hiker, Snaps Photo Of Rare Wolverine In California

A rare sighting of a protected species; a man camping in the Sierra snaps a photo, catching a glimpse of a wolverine.

At first, David Messa wasn’t sure what it was he had captured on camera while on a three-day hike near Lake Spaulding.

“Quite a pleasure to see something like that,” Messa told FOX40. “You know, the first day, I actually saw a bald eagle. I thought, well, is the trip gonna get any better than this?”

Messa says the sun was setting on day two of his hike, in mid-May, when he saw this creature running across a small lake that was still mostly covered in snow and ice.

"He was like a bull in a china shop running across that lake. He just probably feared nothing,” said Messa. "He was kind of galloping; actually fell through the snow two or three times, turned around and came back, and came across in front of me. I was actually able to get a photo."

Back at his campsite that night, the reality of what he had seen sunk in.

"And I was just... You know, I'm pretty sure that was a wolverine,” Messa remembered.

Aside from the lone wolf that wanders into California from Oregon, the wolverine is the rarest species of wild mammal in the Golden State.

Back in 2008, a motion sensor camera in the Tahoe National Forest caught images of a wolverine. The California Department of Fish and Game released the pictures, and said it was just the third documented time a live wolverine had been photographed in the state.

Messa’s photo makes it four. Wildlife biologists with Fish and Game and the Department of Forestry have verified the photograph, according to Messa. FOX40 has requested an interview with one of the biologists.

One can only imagine what Messa will find on his next camping trip.

"Well, I'm not gonna admit to seeing bigfoot,” Messa laughs. "Unless I have a really good photo."

VIDEO A Rare Sighting: Hiker Photographs Wolverine

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