Wolverine

William F. Wood

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether wolverines should be listed as threatened by the end of August. 

This deadline comes after a long wait, said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

NPS Photo / Stacey Skirvanek

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a pending lawsuit from conservation groups who argue the agency has taken too long to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Several western states have spent the last five years trying to count the shy and rare wolverine, a high mountain scavenger in the weasel family. Wildlife agencies in Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and Montana set up camera traps and collected hair samples from the alpine scavenger in 183 locations and the findings are gratifying, said Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist Nichole Bjornlie.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Four wolverines were detected this year in a study of the species in the northwest corner of the state.

It’s the third year that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has conducted its survey to count the rare, widely roaming wolverine in the state.

They believe only about five live here currently.

This year, they installed camera traps in Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorn Range and around Cody. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says, they actually recognized one of the wolverines caught on camera.

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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. 

Wyoming Game and Fish

 

It’s true, we got a late start, the snow turning to mush in the warm sun under our snowmobile tread as we head out mid-morning. I'm tagging along with Wyoming Game and Fish Wolverine Biologist Lee Tafelmeyer into the south end of the Wind River Range to take down a motion-sensored camera he's been baiting with roadkill deer and beaver carcasses in an effort to take photos of wolverines. It's all part of a multi-state project to count this elusive species in the West. Last year, they took 53 photos of an estimated five animals.

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wolverines have adapted to live in snowy climates with their snowshoe-shaped feet and alpine snow dens, and some scientists say a warming climate would affect them drastically. But in 2014 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dismissed such conclusions and withdrew a proposal to list the species as endangered. On Monday, a Montana judge ordered the feds to revive that proposal.

Wyoming Game and Fish

The wolverine is one of the most elusive animals in the wild… not the easiest beast to get on camera. But Wyoming Game and Fish successfully photographed one in the Gros Ventre Range this year, the first documented there since the species was trapped out of the state in the last century. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says the photograph came as a surprise.

“We were able to get a photograph of a wolverine in the Gros Ventre, which has not been documented before. So that was pretty exciting. And then we had a number of wolverines seen in five other locations in Wyoming.”

A proposal to list the wolverine as an endangered species was formally withdrawn by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday. A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says it's planning to sue the government over the decision. Drew Kerr with Wild Earth Guardians, one of the groups, says the wildlife service’s decision to withdraw the proposal shows they are caving to political pressures.

“Their own biologists and a panel of experts convened to review the matter were unanimous in concluding that climate change is a significant threat warranting listing.”

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The clock is ticking about whether to list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species.  Such a listing could all but shut down mineral development in the bird’s habitat.  The state has already tackled sage grouse protections.  Now it’s the federal government’s turn.  It’s been 30 years since the Lander Resource Management Plan was revised.  And so the Bureau of Land Management took the opportunity to put more protections in place for the grouse while they were at it. 

The Lander Resource Management Plan is hundreds of pages and covers a lot of ground. 

Wolverines might be listed as a protected species

Feb 4, 2013

Wolverines could gain federal protection under the Endangered Species Act by year’s end.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has announced a proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species. This is in response to a lawsuit settlement with several conservation organizations, after the FWS determined that wolverines deserve protections, but had been precluded because of higher priority species.