Wolverines could gain federal protection under the Endangered Species Act by year’s end.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has announced a proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species. This is in response to a lawsuit settlement with several conservation organizations, after the FWS determined that wolverines deserve protections, but had been precluded because of higher priority species.
The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, based in Laramie, was one of the groups that filed suit. The group’s Wild Species Program Director Duane Short says there are only about 300 wolverines left in the contiguous 48 states.
Their populations have rebounded in Wyoming and Montana after hunting and trapping almost wiped them out by 1930. But Short says the small, ferocious animals – which can fight off much larger predators – are losing snowy habitat because of climate change.
“The snow is really the essence of the wolverine,” says Short. “They need that deep, powdery snow to gain an advantage, in terms of survival.”
Short says the Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comment on protection plans for the wolverine.