Big Win For Wolverines!

Wolverines jump to the front of the line for endangered species protections
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees to make listing decision by 2013

Summary

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed on a listing determination date of no later than September 30, 2013 for wolverines in the contiguous U.S.  The agreement was formalized in a legal settlement reached between Center for Biological Diversity and the Service and must now be approved by a federal court.
  • In December, wolverines became a candidate for Endangered Species Act protections in the western United States due to their low numbers and the decline of habitat with persistent spring snowpack.
  • The 2013 deadline puts wolverines near the top of the list of more than 250 other candidate species that the Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to consider for listing during the next five years.

WolverineBOZEMAN, Mont. (July 12, 2011) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will determine whether wolverines deserve full protection of the  Endangered Species Act by 2013.  Wolverines in the contiguous U.S. were added to the Candidate species list last December because of their low numbers and the threats posed to their habitat by global warming, but continue to await federal protection. The best data available suggests there are fewer than 300 animals across the entire western U.S., with only 35 individuals–just a tenth of the population–successfully breeding.

“This is welcome news indeed for the wolverine,” said David Gaillard, Rocky Mountain representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “The Emergency Room waiting area was crowded when the wolverine entered last December, and we knew the species couldn’t afford to wait very long for ESA protections.  But we’re hopeful that, by making a final listing decision within the next two years, the Fish and Wildlife Service will have wolverines on a path to recovery in the very near future.”

“With today’s agreement, the wolverine has a shot at survival,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity.  “Saving the wolverine will require swift action to address global warming, which is gravely threatening spring snowpacks the wolverine needs to survive.”

“Can anyone say an animal this rare is not at serious risk of disappearing forever? Its numbers are dangerously low.  Its population spans five western states, with dispersers in two others.  Plus it is at direct risk from climate change, a problem that the federal government has failed to fully grapple with.” said Tim Preso, attorney for Earthjustice. “It is high time that the wolverine received long-awaited legal protections.”

“The wolverine is in dire straits,” said Dave Werntz with Conservation Northwest. “Its current plight is exactly what Congress had in mind when it passed the Endangered Species Act in order to save America’s wildlife from extinction.”

The following conservation organizations have sought to protect the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act since petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to do so in the Year 2000: Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Clearwater, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Idaho Conservation League, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement regarding the revised workplan.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolverine webpage.

Visit the Wolverine Network, a new site dedicated to wolverine research and conservation.

Watch PBS Nature’s documentary on wolverines, “Chasing the Phantom.”

Click here to read the full press release.

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