The North American wolverine will receive long-delayed federal protections under a Biden administration proposal released Wednesday in response to scientists warning that climate change will likely melt away the rare species’ snowy mountain refuges.
Across most of the U.S., wolverines were wiped out by the early 1900s from unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns. About 300 surviving animals in the contiguous U.S. live in fragmented, isolated groups at high elevations in the northern Rocky Mountains.
In the coming decades, warming temperatures are expected to shrink the mountain snowpack wolverines rely on to dig dens where they birth and raise their young.
The decision Wednesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follows more than two decades of disputes over the risks of climate change, and threats to the long-term survival of the elusive species. Officials wrote in the proposal that protections under the Endangered Species Act were needed “due primarily to the ongoing and increasing impacts of climate change and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation.”
Scientists following up on a rare wolverine sighting in the Sierra Nevada set up cameras and captured video of the animal scurrying in the snow, scaling a tree and chewing on bait.
They believe the wolverine is the same one that eight years ago became the first documented in the area since the 1920s.
Chris Stermer, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, set up the remote cameras in the Tahoe National Forest after officials at a field station sent him photos in January of unusual tracks in the snow near Truckee.
New trapping rules designed to better protect lynx and wolverine will take effect as scheduled . . .
Trapping advocates’ objections to new state rules on lynx and wolverine trapping aren’t enough to block a settlement requiring tougher protections for those animals, according to a federal judge in Missoula.
“The fact that, as a result of the regulatory changes … trappers may be left with obsolete traps, will have to check their traps more frequently, and may ultimately trap fewer animals does not constitute formal legal prejudice sufficient to torpedo the parties’ compromise,” U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen wrote in his order to dismiss Tuesday. “Their apparent displeasure with the final product is insufficient to reject the parties’ settlement.”
The original case pitted the Friends of the Wild Swan, WildEarth Guardians and Alliance for the Wild Rockies against the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and its board of commissioners.
Here’s an interesting article about a study of carnivores in a burn area in the Bitterroot National Forest. They even turned up a wolverine . . .
There was no way of knowing what kind of critters might venture through the charred trees left last year in the wake of a wildfire in Soldier Creek.
“The ground was basically dust,” said Bitterroot National Forest biologist Andrea Shortsleeve.
Far up in the head of the West Fork drainage not far from Devil Creek, a team of Bitterroot National Forest researchers led by the biologist decided to set a photographic trap in an effort to see what might show up.