U.S. Fish And Wildlife Faces Lawsuit If Proposed Wolverine Protections Are Withdrawn

Oct 14, 2020

Credit William F. Wood via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Environmental groups have issued an intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if the agency does not put the proposal to put wolverines under Endangered Species Act protections back on the table.

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said wolverines are healthy and do not need to be put on the Threatened Species List.

"The government ignores years and years of climate change science," said Center for Biological Diversity Senior Attorney Andrea Zaccardi. "And [it] cherry picks excerpts from studies to refuse federal protection for the wolverine."

She said the agency isn't considering how climate change will affect wolverines because the animal relies on snow to den.

"The federal government chose the two places in that study where they think snow persistence will remain large enough for wolverines to be able to den and survive," said Zaccardi. "And [it] completely ignored the other areas that were analyzed in that study where the authors said snow persistence in these areas is unlikely to remain high enough for wolverines."

Another concern with the species is whether wolverines have enough genetic diversity. Zaccardi said the agency cited that the Canadian and lower 48 populations connect.

"If there is a connection, and that remains to be seen, I think it needs more study. I think it's still a very minimal connection," she said.

If the agency does not return its proposal to the working table within 60 days, environmental groups plan to sue the federal government.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.