Court Again Forces Feds to Reconsider Wolverine Protections – Pagosa Daily Post News Events & Video for Pagosa Springs Colorado

By Brian Sweeney

Yesterday, a federal judge invalidated a Trump administration decision denying protections to imperiled wolverines under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This is the second time a court has rejected a US Fish and Wildlife Service decision to deny protections for wolverines, which number only about 300 in the contiguous US

The court order immediately reinstates wolverines’ ‘candidate’ status as a species proposed for listing.

“We are hoping this time is the charm and the Fish and Wildlife Service will follow the courts’ directives to rely on the best available climate science to make the right call to protect wolverines in the lower 48 states,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “With climate change quickly shrinking the snowy habitat wolverines rely on to survive, there is no time for politics and further delays.”

The groups in today’s court victory defeated the Service in court in 2016, forcing the agency back to the drawing board with a directive to apply the best science. Four years later, the Service returned with the same decision to deny wolverine protective status, despite no new scientific support for such a determination.

“The science and the law could not be more clear: Wolverine are deserving of the protections of the Endangered Species Act,” said Bethany Cotton, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “It’s a long past time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to do its job and afford this iconic climate-impacted species with the best safeguards available.”

Wolverine rely on snow year-round. With their large paws, wolverine can travel easily over snow, and often rely on deep snow for hunting and for denning and rearing of young. Snow is also a “freezer” that permits the wolverine to store and scavenge food. One study found 98% of all wolverine den sites in places with persistent late spring snowpack.

“Wolverines are trapped on the merry-go-round of extinction and the US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to put them on the path toward recovery by protecting them under the Endangered Species Act.” said Sarah McMillan, WildEarth Guardians’ senior advisor based in Missoula, Montana. “It’s profoundly disappointing that as the extinction crisis escalates, the Biden administration has decided to defend the Trump administration, rather than this climate-imperiled species.”

The victorious organizations include WildEarth Guardians, Friends Of The Bitterroot, Friends Of The Wild Swan, Swan View Coalition, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Alliance For The Wild Rockies, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, George Wuerthner, Footloose Montana, Native Ecosystems Council, Wildlands Network, Helena Hunters and Anglers Association. They were represented by attorneys with the Western Environmental law Center.

Brian Sweeney is Communications Director for Western Environmental Law Center.

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