A Montana District Court decided to relist the wolverine under candidate species status under the Endangered Species Act determining that the species needed additional protections. This decision comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services are reconsidering its 2020 decision to deny listing the wolverine as threatened or endangered.
“This decision is a victory for wolverines, paving the way for desperately needed protections,” Jonathan Proctor, Rockies and Plains program director with Defenders of Wildlife, said. “With Endangered Species Act protections, the wolverine might finally have a fighting chance at survival.”
Earthjustice along with a broad coalition of conservation groups filed a suit against the Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) in 2020, challenging the federal agency’s decision to withhold Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from the 300 wolverines that remain in the lower 48 states. The species is threatened with massive habitat losses since it is a snow-dependent wolverine, according to Earthjustice.
“Wolverines are subject to considerable threats from a warming climate, shrinking snowpack, and increasingly fragmented habitat,” Dave Werntz, science and conservation director at Conservation Northwest, said. “Endangered Species Act protections help focus resources and actions to ensure wolverines have a future in the west’s wild landscapes.”
FWS will re-examine its 2020 decision, but the Montana District Court’s decision requires that the “restoration of candidate species status also ensures that impacts to wolverines, and their habitat, are considered in current and upcoming planning decisions that could impact critical habitat for the species,” according to a press release.
“The wolverine deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, and this is a step toward ensuring the species does not suffer additional harm before that happens,” Amanda Galvan, associate attorney with Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies office, said. “FWS previously ignored key studies that illustrate the threats the wolverine continues to face due to global warming. By reviewing a more complete picture of the species’ circumstances, we are hopeful that the agency will identify the need for increased protections.”