Latest: Court orders reconsideration of whether to list wolverines

Some say state opposition stymied efforts to provide the species federal protection.

  • Wolverine.

    Steve Kroschel/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Fewer than 300 wolverines roam the Lower 48. They require deep snowpack to bear and raise young, but a third of their Northern Rockies habitat is predicted to be mostly snowless by mid-century. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting wolverines as an endangered species in 2013, the first species in the Lower 48 that would have been listed due to climate change. In July 2014, one of the agency’s regional directors, Noreen Walsh, reversed that recommendation, citing uncertainty about climate change impacts. Environmental groups sued, claiming her decision reflected politics, not science (“Climate changes for wolverine listing,” HCN, 8/4/14).

On April 4, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ruled that Fish and Wildlife’s refusal to protect wolverines was “arbitrary and capricious,” citing “immense political pressure” from Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. He told the agency to reconsider, writing in his 85-page order that “if ever there was a species for which conservation depends on foregoing absolute certainty, it is the wolverine.” 


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