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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Federal Agency Ignores Best Available Science In Decision Not To List Wolverine

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Conservationists Promise Legal Action to Protect Rare Species

In response to the decision, Conservation Northwest and a coalition of 9 groups will file notice of intention to sue the Service for refusal to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal Agency Ignores Best Available Science In Decision Not To List Wolverine

The elusive, and threatened, wolverine. Photo: WDFW

Aug 12, 2014

 

BOZEMAN, Mont. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision today to abandon proposed protections for the wolverine ignores the best available science, including advice from the Service’s own wildlife experts, conservation groups stated. In response to the decision, a coalition of 9 groups will file notice of intention to sue the Service for refusal to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act.  

The Service’s decision comes after Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Noreen Walsh’s determination on May 30, 2014 to overrule the agency’s own wildlife biologists and recommend reversing course on listing the wolverine as a threatened species in the lower-48 states. The Service in February 2013 proposed to list the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act, but state wildlife officials in the Northern Rockies region opposed the proposed listing. No more than 300 wolverines remain in the contiguous United States, according to the Service.  

The groups challenging the Service’s determination pointed out that the agency disregarded well-established scientific evidence, including the recommendations of FWS’s own scientists, in speculating that the wolverine might be capable of withstanding the projected loss of 63 percent of its snowy habitat in the lower-48 by the year 2085.  

“It is a shame that the Fish and Wildlife Service has turned a blind eye to the plight of a wilderness icon such as the wolverine, but we will not stand by while the Service ignores the best available science,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso. “We intend to make sure that the wolverine gets a fighting chance at survival.” 

After reviewing the Service’s negative listing determination, Earthjustice will submit to the Service a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue to challenge the Service’s decision unless the Service takes action to protect the wolverine as the Endangered Species Act requires. The groups signing on to the letter are the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Clearwater, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Idaho Conservation League, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Rocky Mountain Wild. 

“The Service’s decision not to list wolverines failed to address all of the multiple threats to this highly imperiled species,” said Kylie Paul, Rockies and Plains Representative with Defenders of Wildlife. “With a population of only 250-300 in the lower-48, low genetic diversity, one of the lowest successful reproductive rates known for mammals and a gauntlet of threats to their habitat, protections are vital. Wolverines warrant federal protections under the Endangered Species Act now, regardless of the Service’s opinions of climate change impacts.” 

"The Obama administration's short-sighted decision to reject the conclusions of their own scientists and withdraw endangered species protections for these iconic animals is part of a disturbing anti-conservation trend," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Blatantly ignoring extensive science showing wolverines are in real trouble in order to bow to political pressure from states is precisely the kind of recipe for extinction that prompted passage of the Endangered Species Act in the first place."

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