After Court Ruling, Wildlife Advocates Strengthen Efforts to Protect Wolverines

Apr 18, 2016

Wildlife groups say they will continue to pressure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the American Wolverine. A federal court ruled the agency buckled under political pressure from states in its decision not to seek protections under the Endangered Species Act. 


Conservation groups are doubling down on efforts to protect wolverines after a federal court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services violated the Endangered Species Act when the agency decided not to protect the predator. Attorney Tim Preso with Earth Justice says the ruling affirms the original findings by the agency’s own scientists that climate change and genetic isolation threaten the species.

“But after a campaign of opposition by affected state governments, the Fish and Wildlife Service backed down and withdrew its proposal to protect the species.”

US District Court Judge Dana Christensen addressed the political pressure brought by states, including Idaho and Wyoming.

Caroline Byrd with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition says after more  than a century of trapping and habitat loss, wolverines in the lower 48 states have been reduced to small, fragmented populations in a handful of mountain states. She says wolverines can’t reproduce without access to deep snowfields where wolverines build their dens.

“We have those in the Northern Rockies, we have them in the greater Yellowstone, and they will persist on into the future. But, we have fewer of them because of climate change, because of our warming climate.”

Only 300 or so wolverines are left in the Northern Rockies and North Cascades.