By Bill Petzold
LANSING — Last summer, Tuscola County residents had a chance to get a firsthand look at the first wild wolverine discovered in Michigan in more than a century.
This week she took up lodging in the ground floor rotunda of the Michigan State Capitol building.
“Pretty Girl,” became a statewide sensation when she was discovered living in Minden Swamp in Sanilac County in 2003, about six miles from the Tuscola County line. Michigan’s nickname is “The Wolverine State,” but a wild wolverine hadn’t been discovered for more than a century.
Retired Deckerville High School teacher Jeff Ford, a Caro resident, spent the next six years photographing the animal, studying it and keeping track of its whereabouts. Ford gave the 30-pound female wolverine, the pet name “Pretty Girl.”
On March 12, 2005, Ford managed to capture his first photo of the wolverine. She was found dead by hunters on March 13, 2010.
Since that time, Pretty Girl’s taxidermied body has made the rounds of DNR facilities in Michigan, including a week on display at the Caro Courthouse in July 2012. On Tuesday, Ford accompanied her to Lansing. Ford co-authored the book “The Lone Wolverine — Tracking Michigan’s Most Elusive Animal” with Elizabeth Philips Shaw about his experiences tracking and studying Pretty Girl.
Ford was joined at the unveiling ceremony by Senator Mike Green (R-Mayville) and Senator Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), as well as DNR director Kevin Creagh.
“I am thrilled that my colleagues as well as all visitors to the Capitol get to check out this amazing creature,” Green said. “It is proper that the last known wolverine in Michigan go on display at the Capitol. We’ve had it in every coutny in my district, and it’s been all over the state, and it’s just been exciting seeing peole standing in line to see that wolverine. I’m glad we were able to convince the administration to bring it out of it’s home at the Bay City State Park so people can see it.”
Ford said the senators, Creagh and himself spoke at the unveiling, and that he had a chance to live a day in the life of a congressman.
“They took me back in the chambers and the entire Senate was there, passing bills and whatnot, and when it came to Sen. Green, first of all he told a little bit about the wolverine, and then they honored me in front of the senate,” Ford said.
Bill Petzold is the editor of the Tuscola County Advertiser. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.