Montana is not happy with the idea of placing the wolverine on the Endangered Species List . . .
Less than two months after federal wildlife officials recommended Endangered Species Act protections for the North American wolverine, whose diminishing alpine habitat scientists have recognized as imperiled by climate change for decades, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) on Friday notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of its intent to challenge the listing in court.
“In Montana, wolverines continue to do well and inhabit much, if not all, of their available habitat,” FWP’s Chief of Conservation Policy Quentin Kujala stated in an agency press release. “We work closely with our neighboring states to ensure the continued conservation of these iconic species. Federal protections in this case will only get in the way of good conservation work.”
Specifically, state wildlife officials took issue with how their federal counterparts’ “switched course” in their listing notice by identifying the lower 48 states as a distinct population segment instead of as connected to Canadian wolverine populations in Canada. The finding came despite protections in Canada and states like Montana to ensure wolverine conservation, according to FWP.
They’re still turning up Wolverines in odd places . . .
A wolverine has been recorded on an Idaho Fish and Game camera near McCall in west-central Idaho as part of a four-state study to determine where the elusive mammals live.
A remote camera recorded at least one wolverine earlier this winter feeding on a deer leg attached to a tree about 12 miles northeast of McCall, the agency reported Friday.
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington state are taking part in the study to find out if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers.
So… USFWS is now accepting comments on a proposed rule to list the wolverine as threatened. Here’s the meat of the official press release, which includes instructions on how to submit comments regarding the proposal. Note that the deadline is November 17, 2016 . . .
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is reopening the public comment period on a proposed rule to list the North American wolverine as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Service had proposed to list the North American wolverine, which is a Distinct Population Segment of wolverines found in the lower 48 states, but withdrew its proposal in 2014 after concluding that the factors affecting it were not as significant as were once thought.
However, the District Court for the District of Montana overturned the Service’s withdrawal, effectively returning the wolverine population to the point at which it was proposed for listing as threatened. A threatened listing would mean this wolverine population is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
The Service has considered the North American wolverine as proposed for listing since the April court decision. This Federal Register Notice is an administrative step to implement the court ruling.
The Service will be starting a new review on the wolverine population to determine whether it meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species, or if the animal is warranted for listing at all. Any decision on whether to list or not list the wolverine under the ESA will be based on the best scientific and commercial information available. We anticipate new climate change information will assist us in this decision.
The Service is asking for any scientific or commercial information on the North American wolverine population during the 30-day public comment period that closes November 17, 2016.
Wolverines look like a small bear with a bushy tail, and each of its five toes is armed with curved, semi-retractile claws. In the lower 48 states, they live in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains, with occasional sightings in Colorado, California, and Nevada. Learn more at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
A wide-ranging wolverine study starts up next winter . . .
Researchers are working on a plan to study wolverines in four Rocky Mountain states to see if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers and see how they might travel between mountain ranges.
Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington state are working together because there are so few wolverines and they are spread across a wide area, a researcher with Montana’s wildlife agency said.
“It doesn’t occur that often that four states start to think about managing a species together,” said Bob Inman, carnivore and fur bearer coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Better late than never: The fight over wolverine protection made it into the New York Times . . .
Because it depends on heavy spring snowpack to excavate dens and safely raise its young near the top of mountain peaks high in the northern Rockies, the wolverine is on the front lines of battles over the effects of climate change.
There is less snow in the Rockies these days, and researchers forecast that in the coming decades, the wolverines in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming may disappear with the snowpack. Only about 300 of the animals are in the lower 48 states. In 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the animal for endangered species protection, calling the science inconclusive.
The debate over protection for the reclusive animal, the largest in the weasel family, has been going on for about 20 years, and it was revived this week by a federal court ruling here in Montana.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service got dragged into court over their wolverine policy and got chewed out by the judge . . .
The Obama administration brushed over the threat that climate change poses to the snow-loving wolverine when it denied protections for the elusive predator also known as the “mountain devil,” a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to a warming planet. Wolverines need deep mountain snows to den, and scientists warn that such habitat will shrink as the planet heats up.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the views of many of its own scientists in 2014 when it said the effects of climate change on wolverines remained ambiguous.
Here’s the latest on the fight over adding wolverines to the endangered species list. (Bonus fact: The judge has actually seen three of them.) . . .
In a room packed with wolverine legal experts, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen may have had the best brief. He actually saw the rare carnivore on three separate occasions.
“I don’t know what the odds are of seeing a wolverine three times,” Christensen told the attorneys, “but there’s no reason for any of you to explain it’s a member of the weasel family with large feet that eats marmots. I’ve seen that.”
Christensen added he also had read the scientific reports on the wolverine’s habitat and population, was aware of how elusive the animal is and how hard it is to study. What he wanted to know in the case of Center for Biological Diversity et. al. v. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was whether an agency decision denying Endangered Species Act protection to wolverines was reasonable or arbitrary.
The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at Glacier National Park is hosting a brown-bag luncheon presentation about wolverines in the park by Dr. John Waller on Monday, May 18, from 12 – 1 p.m. at the park’s community building in West Glacier.
Dr. John Waller is the park’s carnivore ecologist and has been actively seeking to expand knowledge about wolverines in Glacier National Park. Wolverines are one of the least studied animals in the United States. Research indicates that Glacier National Park has the largest reproducing population in the lower 48 states.
The Glacier National Park Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center hosts brown-bag lectures throughout the year. Learn more about the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center at http://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/nature/ccrlc.htm.
Here’s a pretty good article on Rick Yates’ wolverine study in Glacier Park . . .
The devil bear. The little wolf. The skunk bear.
Despite being a member of the weasel family topping out at about 40 pounds, the wolverine’s abundance of nicknames reflects its larger-than-life personality. Perhaps most telling, its scientific name, Gulo gulo, is Latin for “glutton.”
Rick Yates, a U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist, spent from 2002 to 2007 studying the elusive carnivore’s behavior, trapping and tracking wolverines over hundreds of square miles in Glacier National Park…