America’s elusive and imperiled wolverine needs Federal protection!
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently gathered comments regarding a petition to list the wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Biodiversity Legal Foundation originally filed the petition in 2000, and the government originally rejected it based upon the assertion that the petition failed to present substantial scientific and commercial information supporting the need to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.
The primary basis for the government’s decision was that, because wolverine are so secretive and occur at relatively low densities in very remote regions, the petitioners could not prove that the wolverine was actually imperiled by human activities. Yet, we do know much about the types of human activities that take place in typical wolverine habitat, and that much of this activity can render such places uninhabitable for wolverines. Moreover, we know that global climate change is likely to negatively affect wolverine habitat.
Citizens weigh in!
Comments from around the country emphasized the following:
- A variety of human activities, including road building and logging, is destroying wolverine habitat, and the connectivity between core areas of habitat;
- Trapping continues to jeopardize wolverines;
- Climate change may seriously affect wolverines, which are dependent upon the very specific climatic conditions of high alpine environments;
- Wolverine would stand a much greater chance of survival under the protections of the Endangered Species Act; over 99% of the species listed under the Endangered Species Act have been saved from extinction; and
- Waiting for absolute proof that wolverines are imperiled is poor stewardship, and a recipe for extinction.
In the coming months, the government will review all comments and any new published science on the wolverine. We hope that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will do the right thing at the end of their review: list wolverines as endangered, and grant them significant critical habitat in the U.S.