Monday, December 13, 2010

FWS: Wolverines need ESA protection but must wait

Photo Credit: Steve Kroschel/USFWS
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced today that the wolverine merits Endangered Species Act protections but will not be added to the list of endangered and threatened species any time soon.

The report, released today, states that while the impact of climate change warrants granting the mammal endangered status, consideration of listing other more threatened species prevents FWS from taking immediate action to safeguard the species.

In the report, FWS estimated that there are fewer than 300 wolverines in the United States currently.

The decision, while granting no protection to the species, reverses a Bush-era determination that said that the wolverine did not warrant ESA listing as adjacent populations not in the United States were healthy. The revised decision recognizes the threat posed to wolverines due to climate change related habitat loss.

Wolverines require deep snowpack to survive, digging  up to 10 feet below the surface to build dens. The report found climate change to be the "primary threat to the wolverine population".

The decision was reached in response to litigation filed by ESC Member Organizations and other conservation groups.

Regarding the "warranted but precluded" decision for wolverines, ESC's Northern Rockies Representative, Derek Goldman said,
"As the wolverine case now illustrates, the Endangered Species Act—our nation’s safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction—is chronically underfunded. U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists now have more than 250 species that they admit need protection, but for which they have insufficient funding to do so.  Congress owes it to future generations of Americans to make sure wildlife professionals have the resources necessary to protect the wolverine and other endangered species and the places they call home."
Moving forward, the wolverine will be added to a candidate species list and the speed with which it receives deserved resources and protections is dependent on the number of species ahead of it.

To find out more about endangered species and how you can support our work and help save endangered and threatened wildlife please visit stopextinction.org.

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