Wolverine Decision Pending
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
July 9, 2014
Early next month, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to issue a final decision whether to grant federal protection to wolverines under the Endangered Species Act. In response to continued petitions for listing filed by environmental groups, in February 2013, FWS proposed rules that would list in the lower 48 states as a threatened species, and to classify wolverines in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico as a nonessential experimental population – which would allow for Colorado wildlife officials to undertake a reintroduction program.
FWS biologists had proposed federal protection for wolverines, citing that the primary threat to the species is "from habitat and range loss due to climate warming." Wolverines require habitats with near-arctic conditions wherever they occur. In the contiguous United States, wolverine habitat is restricted to high-elevation areas in the West.
In May 2014, a FWS ecological services team based in Montana recommended that the final FWS decision provide for federal protection for the species. But two weeks later, the Assistant Regional Director for the FWS Ecological Services division responded in a 24-page memo casting doubt upon the degree to which FWS can reliably predict impacts to wolverine populations from climate change. That memo instructed staff to prepare a withdrawal of the listing proposal. The withdrawal will then be presented to FWS Director Dan Ashe for his approval.
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