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Speak up for the imperiled wolverine

US Fish & Wildlife Service Photo Credit

Due to a ruling on lawsuits brought by conservation groups, including Friends of the Clearwater, the US Fish and Wildlife Service was ordered to reopen the process to list the wolverine in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act. In spite of scientific evidence to the contrary, including its own experts, the Fish and Wildlife Service had bowed to political pressure and had decided not to list the wolverine even though it had been proposed for listing earlier. The new comment period ends November 17.

The wolverine, the largest land-dwelling member of the weasel family, once roamed across the northern tier of the United States and as far south as New Mexico in the Rockies and Southern California in the Sierra Nevada range. After more than a century of trapping and habitat loss, wolverines in the lower 48 have been reduced to small, fragmented populations in Idaho, Montana, Washington, Wyoming and northeast Oregon.

With no more than 300 wolverines remaining in these regions, the species is at direct risk from climate change because wolverines depend on areas that maintain deep snow through late spring, when pregnant females dig their dens into the snowpack to birth and raise their young. Snowpack is already in decline in the western mountains, a trend that is predicted to worsen. Wolverine populations also are threatened by trapping for other species, human disturbance, extremely low population numbers resulting in low genetic diversity, and fragmentation of habitat.

Some Possible Points to Make:

1- While the Clearwater region is home to the wolverine, the populations here and elsewhere are endangered. They should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

2- Critical habitat designation is a crucial consideration for the wolverine. It should be identified and protected. For example, winter recreation, particularly motorized, is a threat to wolverines. Recent research shows that denning success is greatest outside of areas used by recreationists, mainly snowmobiles.

3- Incidental trapping for other species is also a threat to wolverines. The Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do something about this threat as well.

Electronic comments can be submitted by November 17 at:


 OR by mail at:

Public Comments Processing

Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2016–0106

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters


5275 Leesburg Pike,

Falls Church, VA 22041–3803