Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wolverine Listing Decision Made « Conservation Media

Wolverine Listing Decision Made « Conservation Media

On December 13th, 2010, the US Fish & Wildlife Service published a long-awaited report on the potential listing of the wolverine (Gulo gulo) under the Endangered Species Act.

Rare by nature, the 30lb (14kg) wolverine has achieved mythical status for its ability to kill moose hindered by deep snow and to drive wolves and grizzly bears from their kills. Scavenging and hunting, wolverines roam the high country where they depend on deep snowpack for denning. In fact, persistence of snowpack into late April is the greatest predictor of their occurrence, something that is measurably shifting due to climate change.

The USFWS report finds that protection under the Endangered Species Act is indeed warranted for the wolverine, but so great is the backlog of imperiled species, and so poor is the funding that protection for the wolverine must be deferred until the USFWS can deal properly with other priority species.

Although the report simultaneously acknowledges the imperiled status of the species and denies it protection, the report is at least significant in that it acknowledges that climate change impacts to habitat and connectivity are serious and reason to give rare and declining species like the wolverine federal protection.