The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that it will deny protections for the rare and elusive wolverine under the Endangered Species Act, prompting a coalition of conservation groups to issue an intent to sue.
“Recent scientific information makes it clear that wolverines face threats from destruction of their snowy habitat due to climate change,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso in a statement. “We intend to take action to make sure that the Trump administration’s disregard of the real impacts of climate change does not doom the wolverine to extinction in the lower 48 states.”
With fewer than 300 wolverines left in the contiguous United States, there is no justification for the FWS to deny protection. Listing wolverines as threatened or endangered would trigger badly needed conservation efforts.
Earthjustice will represent a coalition of conservation groups including: Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Clearwater, Idaho Conservation League, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Rocky Mountain Wild.
“It’s outrageous that the Fish and Wildlife Service has again shrugged off the science showing that wolverines are in trouble and desperately need federal protection,” stated Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s sad that after years of inaction, we need to go to court again to ensure that wolverines get the protections that they need before it’s too late.”
“Climate change and habitat fragmentation have not magically disappeared, but in fact continue to push wolverines in the lower 48 to the brink,” noted Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains Program Director at Defenders of Wildlife. “With this decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service has abandoned its moral and legal obligation to protect these animals, but we will not abandon our ongoing effort to see them legally protected.”
“Now more than ever, we need to speak the truth about the health of our ecosystem and wildlife,” said Skye Schell, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance. “It is past time for our government to formally recognize the severe threats that wolverines face, and then to take action to protect this rare and significant species. Wolverines embody the spirit of the wild that is in danger from ever-increasing human impacts, and this may be our last chance to maintain a healthy wolverine population for future generations.”
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