VANCOUVER - Evidence shows the often-reclusive wolverine has taken up residence for the first time on an island off British Columbia's Central Coast and the animal's eating habits have changed along with its relocation.

The study, published Monday in The Canadian Field-Naturalist, shows that at least two wolverines inhabit Princess Royal Island, part of B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest.

There are about 3,000 to 4,000 wolverines in B.C., but most of them are in the Interior, in snowy habitats and higher elevations, the study said.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologist Tom Shardlow, who authored the report, said it was the first proven sighting of a wolverine in the area.

"The main thing is it's an oddity," said Shardlow. "It's the first time anything has been published that indicates wolverines occupy these islands."

Wolverines are typically the same weight as a mid-sized dog and live mostly by scavenging from dead animals.

The largest land-inhabiting member of the weasel family, the wolverine also has a reputation for fierceness. There have been reports of wolverines killing caribou up to 10 times its size, according to the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology.

The animal is rarely sighted on the coast, and while there have been occasional stories of the animal being spotted on the islands of The Great Bear Rainforest, none have been verified and published until now, he said.

The study also marks the first time the animal has been documented eating salmon.

"Wolverines found in coastal watersheds of British Columbia would be expected to encounter moribund salmon ... from spawning runs in many of the streams. However, there are no records of salmon consumption by this scavenger," the study said.

Shardlow said many other animals eat fish on the island, but he didn't expect wolverines to do so.

"Those kind of species that we expect to see using salmon were all there," said Shardlow. "But there was one nobody would ever expect to see — and that's a wolverine."

Wolverines typically live off the carcasses of wild game such as deer, but hair samples indicated that one of the wolverines documented in the study had marine protein in its diet.

To make this discovery, Shardlow created cage-like structures with bait inside. When the wolverines took the bait, their fur was snagged on the barbs of the structure.

Shardlow removed the hair, tested the samples in a lab and found carbon-13 and nitrogen-15 isotopes, which are associated with marine protein.

The wolverine inhabits an area close to a watershed filled with salmon, so that's probably the source of its marine protein, he said.

Cameras were also set up at each of the stations so the animals could be identified.

Shardlow said his discovery adds yet another animal to the long list of those that depend on the province's salmon for survival, placing even more importance on the need to preserve the fish stock.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Elephants

    As human development encroaches more and more on elephant habitat, the incidence of elephant attacks is rising. Approximately 500 people are already killed each year. In India, more than 100 people are killed annually, and 200 deaths have been reported in Kenya over the last seven years. The animals are often shot in retaliation for aggressive acts. Wildlife authorities in Kenya shoot between 50 to 120 problem elephants every year.  <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Hippos

    Although they may look cute, these massive animals kill almost 3,000 people each year in Africa. Hippos are territorial and aggressive, and will attack humans or other animals that come too close. Hippos can be up to 14 feet long and weigh up to 8,000 pounds. While many people know these animals are dangerous in the water, it's a lesser-known fact that hippos are also formidable foes on land where they can run up to 19 mph. <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Dogs

    Of the 55,000 people worldwide that die from rabies each year, the vast majority contract the disease from rabid dogs. Dogs bite more than 4.7 million people annually. In America, about 800,000 victims seek medical attention for dog bites each year. It's wise to stay wary of stray dogs both at home and while on the road. Dog bites account for more than 50 percent of animal-related injuries in travelers. <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Cape Buffalo

    Cape Buffalo, also called “The Black Death” and “widowmakers,” will ambush anyone who wounds or injures them. Therefore it’s no surprise that these animals kill more hunters than any other species in Africa.  <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Deer

    The next time you see a deer crossing sign on the highway, lay off the gas pedal. Deer cause about 1 million car accidents in the United States each year that result in approximately 200 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While November is the most common month and West Virginia the most common place for a collision, accidents can happen anytime and anywhere with a deer population.  <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>

  • Mosquitoes

    By spreading malaria, Mosquitoes cause an estimated 660,000 deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization. Humans contract malaria when they are bitten by an <em>Anopheles</em> mosquito carrying a malaria parasite.  People in more than 100 countries across five continents—the equivalent of half the world’s population—are at risk for the disease. Ninety percent of deaths from malaria are in sub-Saharan Africa, and the vast majority of victims are children under the age of five. <em>Credit: Shutterstock</em>