Wolverine State Loses Only Known Wolverine

This photo taken Saturday, March 13, 2010, provided by Steve Noble via the Detroit Free Press, shows Jeff Ford holding Michigan's only known wolverine after she was found dead by hikers. (AP Photo/Steve Noble via Detroit Free Press) DETROIT NEWS OUT. MAGS OUT. NO SALES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
AP Photo/Steve Noble
The Wolverine State has lost its only known wild wolverine.

State officials said Monday hikers found the 28-pound female over the weekend outside Minden, about 90 miles north of Detroit.

Department of Natural Resources and Environment spokeswoman Mary Dettloff says natural causes are suspected.

Hunters first spotted the wolverine in 2004. Teacher Jeff Ford tracked the animal for years and says it had distinctive markings "like a fingerprint." He says years of monitoring failed to document any other wolverines in the area.

Previously, the last known Michigan wolverine sightings were in the early 1800s. The animal's ferocious reputation led to its selection as a mascot for the state and the University of Michigan.

Most North American wolverines are found in Alaska and Canada.