Tag Archives: wolverine trapping

Western wildlife officials want wolverine listing delayed

There’s still resistance to listing the Wolverine as a threatened species . . .

An organization of wildlife officials for Western states is asking the federal government to delay a possible listing for wolverines as a threatened species, which could mean an end to trapping outside Alaska for the animal’s fur.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife objects to any listing based solely on fears climate change could shrink the wolverine’s wintry terrain along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and other Western ranges.

“Climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act,” Bill Bates, a representative from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Federal wolverine protection opposed by states

Montana, Idaho and Wyoming officials don’t think wolverines need federal “threatened species” protection . . .

State officials in the Northern Rockies on Monday lined up against a federal proposal to give new protections to the carnivorous wolverine, as climate change threatens to melt the species’ snowy mountain strongholds.

A pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal would declare the rare, elusive animal a threatened species across the Lower 48 states.

That could end trapping for the ferocious member of the weasel family sometimes called the “mountain devil.” And it would pave the way for Colorado to reintroduce wolverines in portions of the southern Rocky Mountains as part of a strategy to bolster their numbers ahead of future declines.

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It’s official: Feds want wolverines on Endangered Species List

As expected, the federal government will propose giving wolverines Endangered Species Act protection today. The recommendation includes a proposal to reintroduce wolverines into Colorado and, of course, would permanently ban trapping and hunting of wolverines in the lower 48 states . . .

The tenacious wolverine, a snow-loving carnivore sometimes called the “mountain devil,” is being added to the list of species threatened by climate change — a dubious distinction that puts it in the ranks of the polar bear and several other animals that could see their habitats shrink drastically due to warming temperatures.

Federal wildlife officials on Friday will propose Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine in the lower 48 states, a step twice denied under the Bush administration.

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Montana FWP opposed to increased wolverine protections

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is not happy with the prospect of federal regulation of Wolverines . . .

Montana wildlife officials have given up on a wolverine trapping season this winter, but said Tuesday they want the state excluded from pending federal protections for the elusive predators so trapping can be revived.

Federal officials are poised to announce by next Friday whether wolverines should get Endangered Species Act protections across the western U.S…

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Feds plan to protect wolverines as threatened species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just put paid to the Wolverine trapping debate in Montana by announcing that they plan to list the animal as threatened . . .

Montana’s wolverine trapping season effectively ended on Monday after reports that federal officials plan to put the rare predator on the endangered species list.

After putting the trapping season in limbo Nov. 30, a state district judge canceled a planned Jan. 10 hearing on the matter when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they plan to issue a proposed rule giving wolverines “threatened” status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act on Jan. 18.

Although the federal decision must still go through several months of public comment and review, District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled it made little sense to debate a trapping season that was soon to become moot.

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Judge temporarily halts wolverine trapping

Wolverine trapping in Montana is blocked — for now, at least . . .

The wolverine trapping season in Montana has been halted after a Helena judge approved the request by eight conservation groups and an individual.

District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock issued a temporary restraining order Friday morning that suspends the trapping, snaring or killing of wolverines in Montana until after a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for Jan. 10.

The wolverine trapping season was scheduled to begin Saturday, Dec. 1 . . .

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Montana’s wolverine trapping season heads to court

The Flathead Beacon has an excellent article on the wolverine trapping issue, including a few words from the always-pithy Doug Chadwick. Recommended reading . . . . . .

While wolverines’ protected status under the Endangered Species Act remains in limbo, Montana’s trapping season is quickly approaching and a coalition of conservation groups is trying to stop trappers from harvesting any wolverines in the state until the species rebounds to a stable population.

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Wolverine trapping a bad idea and bad science

And while we’re jumping on the wolverine trapping issue, here is a letter from Bob Nelson, Vice President of the North Fork Preservation Association. It went out the the editors of several regional papers a couple of days ago. The “petition” referenced in his letter has just been pre-empted by yesterday’s lawsuit, but his comments are still very much to the point . . .

To the editor

The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission recently authorized the trapping of five wolverines (or three females) during this trapping season. The Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Friends of the Wild Swan, Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, and the Wild Earth Guardians, petitioned the commission. The petition requested that the trapping of wolverines be stopped this season and that all wolverine trapping be suspended until the wolverine is no longer a candidate or protective species under the US Endangered Species Act.

The North Fork Preservation Association (NFPA) supports that petition and asks that the public contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission to support that petition.  The NFPA is composed of citizens living in or concerned about the ecosystem of the North Fork of the Flathead River. We are dedicated to protecting the natural resources that make the North Fork an unparalleled area for wildlife and people.

The petition provides ample reasons and supporting research for canceling wolverine trapping. Currently, the total population of wolverines in Montana is estimated to be between 100-175 individuals. That number is expected to decline as climate change shrinks the available snowpack habitat in Montana. The trapping of wolverines when the population is small and at risk makes a bad situation worse. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) states that the trapped wolverine populations likely live at densities that are lower than are necessary to maintain their population unless wolverines from untrapped populations are added. Currently, the Service believes the wolverine population is inadequate for maintenance of genetic diversity of the species.

Montana is the only state in the contiguous US that allows wolverine trapping. Idaho and Wyoming designate wolverines as a protected non-game species while Washington lists the wolverine as an endangered species. Under Montana law, the state is required to manage wolverines in a manner that assists with the maintenance or recovery of the species.  Instead, trapping may put that species at risk. Trapping does not distinguish which animal will be trapped; if a nursing mother wolverine is trapped, both the female and her young are dead.

Wolverines are an integral part of the Montana ecosystem. They are strong, robust, will eat anything, are afraid of nothing, and can climb the highest peak with ease.  Their large snowshoe-like feet give them an edge over most competitors and prey during the winter months. Putting this species at risk so that five trappers can “harvest” a pelt worth about $260 is a poor decision, both for the wolverine and the people of Montana.

The NFPA is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the plants, animals, and water that exist within the North Fork region. The wolverine is one of those animals and deserves protection from trapping.

Bob Nelson
Vice-president, NFPA
135 Rainbow Drive
Polebridge, MT 59928

Lawsuit filed to halt trapping of rare wolverine in Montana

A group of environmental organizations turned the heat up a notch yesterday on the wolverine trapping issue. Here’s the press release from the  Western Environmental Law Center . . .

Helena, MT – Today, the Western Environmental Law Center, on behalf of eight conservation groups and one individual, filed a lawsuit to halt wolverine trapping in Montana until the species’ population has recovered.

On December 14, 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that the wolverine deserves federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). However, the agency also said it could not undertake the necessary rulemaking process for lack of time, so the wolverine remains a “candidate” species awaiting protective status.

Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that still allows the rare wolverine to be trapped. Montana’s wolverine population is estimated at 100-175 animals, with no more than 35 individuals capable of producing offspring. The current quota in Montana allows five wolverines to be trapped and killed each season. Wolverines are trapped for their fur.

“Wolverines are tough animals, but they need all the help they can get right now in the face of a warming planet with shrinking and increasingly fragmented habitat,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who is representing the groups. “Trapping wolverine under these circumstances is making an already bleak situation worse.”

Since being designated a “candidate” species for ESA protection, members of the public have submitted extensive comments to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission asking the agency to end the trapping of wolverines. The Commissioners did not respond or otherwise address these comments. The State also refused to address the merits of a formal petition submitted by Mr. Bishop on behalf of the same eight conservation groups and one individual asking the State to adopt a new rule ending the trapping of wolverines until they are no longer a candidate or listed species under the ESA.

“Montana state law requires Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to “assist in the maintenance or recovery” of wolverines. We hoped to avoid litigation when we filed our petition in August. Unfortunately, the State refused to consider the science included in our petition and halt the needless trapping of these imperiled animals,” Bishop added.

“So now we’re compelled to follow the only course left open to us, which is to seek judicial review.”

Wolverine require cold climates where deep snow remains into late May so females can dig secure snow caves called “dens” to raise their young. Such conditions are disappearing nationwide due to climate change. Even in Glacier National Park, which holds the largest population of wolverines in Montana, what remains of the Park’s once-vast icefields is melting rapidly, and scientists say the glaciers could be gone completely within 20 years. Warming temperatures are also increasing the distance — and thus fragmentation — between areas of viable wolverine habitat, making it more difficult for the species to successfully reproduce and increasing the likelihood of fatal inbreeding.

Trapping is the major source of wolverine mortality in Montana and has had significant negative effects on subpopulations inhabiting Montana’s small, isolated island ranges. In one study spanning a three year period, of the 14 wolverines researchers followed in the Pioneer Mountains, six were killed in traps, including four adult males and two pregnant females, killing half of the estimated wolverine population there.

“We’re lucky to see wolverine on rare occasions here in the Swan Range of Northwest Montana” said the Swan View Coalition’s Keith Hammer. “This area is where they were first studied back in the 1970s, but trapping killed five times more wolverine than natural causes and killed nearly two-thirds of the wolverines being studied in just five years. Trapping must stop if these rare and wonderful animals are to return from the brink of extinction.”

“This is the right thing to do — morally, scientifically, socially and ecologically — for the future of wolverine and the future of trapping in Montana,” said Gary Ingman, a board member of the Helena Hunters and Anglers Association. “The biological models show that the current population levels are simply not self-sustaining and nowhere near high enough to provide recreational trapping opportunities in Montana.”

The Western Environmental Law Center is representing Helena Hunters and Anglers Association, Friends of the Wild Swan, Montana Ecosystem Defense Council, Native Ecosystems Council, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the Swan View Coalition, Wild Earth Guardians, Footloose Montana and Mr. George Wuerthner.

The complaint can be read here: http://www.westernlaw.org/sites/default/files/Complaint..Wolverine.Final_.October.11.2012.pdf

The Western Environmental Law Center is a non-profit public interest law firm that uses the power of the law to defend and protect the American West’s treasured landscapes, iconic wildlife and rural communities.

Several conservation and sportsmen groups want to ban wolverine trapping

Short version: A number of organizations groups want to end wolverine trapping in Montana. Montana FWP thinks they are overreacting to a minimal trapping quota. Here’s the lead-in . . .

Eight conservation and sportsmen groups are petitioning Montana to ban the trapping of wolverines, citing a government finding that climate change may threaten the survival of the fierce, bear-like creatures.

Montana wildlife regulators on Thursday unanimously approved the upcoming trapping season anyway, saying the climate change models span decades and the trapping quota of five wolverines for the 2012 season is not likely to hurt the overall population.

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