Michigan Wolverines

The state of Michigan has associated itself with the wolverine in many ways:

- One of Michigan's nicknames is "The Wolverine State".
- At different times, Detroit's baseball and football teams were called the "Wolverines".
- The University of Michigan's mascot is the Wolverine.
- The state animal is the Wolverine.

But, ironically, wolverines don't typically live in Michigan. As a matter of fact, there has only been one confirmed sighting of a wild wolverine in Michigan in the last 200 years (it was seen in the "thumb" in 2004)!

So what's the deal? How did Michigan get linked to the wolverine?

Here's the explanation from the official State of Michigan website:

Why is Michigan sometimes called "The Wolverine State"?

Michigan has long had an unofficial nickname: "The Wolverine State." However, evidence seems to show that if wolverines ever lived in Michigan, they would have been rare. We don't know exactly how the state got the nickname, but two stories attempt to explain it.

Some people believe that Ohioans gave Michigan the nickname around 1835 during a dispute over the Toledo strip, a piece of land along the border between Ohio and Michigan. Rumors in Ohio at the time described Michiganians as being as vicious and bloodthirsty as wolverines. This dispute became known as the Toledo War.

Another reason given for the nickname is a story that has Native Americans, during the 1830s, comparing Michigan settlers to wolverines. Some native people, according to this story, disliked the way settlers were taking the land because it made them think of how the gluttonous wolverine went after its food.

Well, there you have it. It's all about the reputation, I suppose! I wonder if most Michiganians or U of M students realize what being a "wolverine" actually implies. They seem like vicious little animals! Maybe that was the point? :)

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