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Strong suit to protect wolverines

Sep 30, 2008

Conservation Northwest and others have filed suit against the Bush administration for its failure to protect wolverines, rare in the US, under the Endangered Species Act.

Wolverine. Photo by G and B CorsiA decision by field and regional biologists that protection for wolverines is “warranted” under the ESA was recently reversed at the eleventh hour by the Bush administration. In response, today Conservation Northwest, together with ten other conservation groups, filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act. We are concerned by what we see as government corruption of science and failure to acknowledge the serious threat of climate change.

The wolverine, a solitary animal known for its ability cross mountain ranges and cover large distances, is likely at risk from changes in the climate. Already suffering in the United States from trapping and habitat loss, the wolverine is especially vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

Similar to polar bears, wolverines depend on areas that maintain deep snow from February through early May where they dig their dens to birth and raise their young. Snowpack in the western mountains is declining due to climate change. Wolverines rely on the wild, unroaded landscapes found in the Western US and have large home ranges that can include up to 500 square miles.

“Washington State is one of the last strongholds for this gritty animal,” says our international conservation director, Joe Scott. "They are the ultimate survivors, able to live in mountains that routinely get 20 feet of snow. But in the face of climate change we must work with our Canadian friends, not depend on them, to ensure wolverines have a future.”

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