Climate Concerns Induce USFWS to Propose ESA Protection for Wolverines

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on February 1 a proposal to list the North American wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). USFWS stated in a news release that “Extensive climate modeling indicates that the wolverine’s snowpack habitat will be greatly reduced and fragmented in the coming years due to climate warming, thereby threatening the species with extinction.” The listing would allow for continued recreational activities in wolverine territory, but would make hunting and trapping of the animals illegal.

Two states still allow wolverine trapping: Alaska and Montana. Last year, a coalition of eight mostly Montana-based wildlife protection and conservation groups sued the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to block wolverine trapping in that state. In November, just before the trapping season began, the groups won a temporary restraining order that effectively shut down the season. The underlying lawsuit is slated to run into the summer, while a final decision from USFWS on the ESA proposal will be issued following several months of public comment and review.