Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Feds deny wolverines special status, say climate change not likely to put them at risk of extinction

Wolverines are a rare sight, with only an estimated 300 remaining in the contiguous 48 states, mostly in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, with some in Oregon and Washington, Laura Zuckerman reports for Reuters. But despite low numbers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it won't put these members of the weasel family on the endangered and threatened list, saying climate change has not affected them as much as previously thought. (USFWS photo)

Last year the agency proposed applying Endangered Species Act safeguards for wolverines, "saying global warming was reducing mountain snows the animals use to dig dens and store food," Zuckerman writes. "But on Tuesday federal wildlife managers said there was 'insufficient evidence'  that climate change would harm wolverines, which resemble small bears with bushy tails and which are known for their ferocious defense of their young."

The FWS said in a press release: "While it is clear that the climate is warming, after carefully considering the best available science, the Service has determined that the effects of climate change are not likely to place the wolverine in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future."

While conservationists criticized the decision, it "was welcomed in states such as Montana, which will determine next year whether to reinstate a limited wolverine trapping season that was suspended in 2012 after a lawsuit by conservationists," Zuckerman writes. "Listing would have banned trapping of wolverines, which are prized for their fur, and imposed restrictions on snowmobiling and other winter recreation in areas inhabited by the solitary creatures." (Read more)

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