North American Wolverines Granted ‘Threatened’ Status Amid Climate Concerns

President Biden's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes crucial steps to protect wolverines in the face of climate change, listing them as 'threatened' for enhanced conservation efforts.
North American Wolverines

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President Biden’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes crucial steps to protect wolverines in the face of climate change, listing them as ‘threatened’ for enhanced conservation efforts.

In a pivotal move for wildlife conservation, President Biden’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has officially listed North American wolverines in the contiguous United States as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. This critical decision comes as a response to the escalating impacts of climate change and the resulting habitat degradation faced by these elusive creatures.

Wolverines, often referred to as the “skunk bear,” are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their reliance on snow-covered environments. Females, in particular, depend on snowfall to create dens for their kits, emphasizing the importance of preserving snowy habitats for their survival.

According to Pacific Regional Director Hugh Morrison, “Current and increasing impacts of climate change and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation are imperiling the North American wolverine. Based on the best available science, this listing determination will help to stem the long-term impact and enhance the viability of wolverines in the contiguous United States.”

The decision comes at a crucial time, with an estimated 300 North American wolverines remaining in the contiguous United States. This population has faced historical challenges, nearly facing extinction a century ago due to unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns.

Despite the urgency highlighted by the FWS proposal to list wolverines as “threatened” in 2013, the decision was reversed during the Trump administration in 2020, citing that it was not warranted. It wasn’t until the District Court of Montana overturned the Trump administration’s ruling in 2022 that North American wolverines were reconsidered for protection.

This official “threatened” designation marks a significant step in safeguarding the North American wolverine population, emphasizing the importance of conservation efforts amidst the ever-growing challenges posed by climate change. The FWS remains committed to leveraging the best available science to ensure the preservation and enhancement of wolverine viability in the face of environmental threats.