The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reevaluating a previous decision not to extend endangered species protections to wolverines. The agency decided against listing wolverines as an endangered species in 2014, but was then sued by environmental groups. Under court order, the agency will undertake a two-year review of whether the wolverine should in fact be listed, and will reopen the public comment period.
Wolverines rely on heavy snowpack and scientists are worried that warming temperatures because of climate change are putting the animals at risk. But the Fish and Wildlife Service has said in the past that the impact of climate change on wolverine populations was unclear. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Serena Baker says the agency is reevaluating the data.
“We’re diving into that science first, and making it a determination, before moving forward with any kind of policy decision,” Baker said. “We have committed that we will have that species review done in fiscal year 2017.”
Baker adds that they expect to made a final decision on protections for wolverines in 2018.
The Center for Biological Diversity was one of the complainants in the case against the government. Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney with the organization, says the government’s timeframe is troubling.
“When it put out its order [deciding against protections for the wolverine] last April, the court very clearly said to take action at the earliest possible defensible point in time, and the court said for the wolverine, that time is now. That time is not in two years.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment for the next 30 days.