Feds consider adding wolverines to endangered list

Status Review is a result of a lawsuit

Wolverines are very rare in the Lower 48 but there have been a few notable confirmations of them in Colorado where there is one being tracked by a gps collar and another in California which has been photographed with a remote camera for three consecutive years. They also inhabit Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Washington but are under threat from winter disturbance by snowmobiling, and trapping in Montana.

Feds consider adding wolverines to endangered list
By JUDITH KOHLER Associated Press Writer

Wolverines on the move.

Colorado and Washington State see wolverines in new places.

In recent years wolverines have been seen in places where they were not expected. Is this because people are looking for them or are they expanding their range? One wolverine in an isolated location does not mean that there is a sustainable population. There have been reports of radio tagged wolverines which have travelled very long distances across what would seem to be unsuitable habitat.

Recall the wolverine sighted in California on two occasions.

Here are two recent stories about wolverines in Washington State and Colorado.

Wolverine caught on camera on Mount Adams
Seattle Times

After 90 Years, the Wolverine (Just One) Returns to Colorado
New York Times

Study: Wolverine in Sierra most likely from Idaho

Two sightings of the same wolverine in the same area a year apart.

There are very few wolverines in Idaho but they have been known to travel very long distances across fairly diverse landscapes.

Study: Wolverine in Sierra most likely from Idaho
The Associated Press

Roads, especially I-90, keep grizzlies from reinhabiting good grizzly habitat

Biologists seek answers to grizzly bear migration roadblocks-

Biologists seek answers to grizzly bear migration roadblocks. By Jim Robbins. New York Times (in the Seattle Times).

Interstate 90, which cuts through miles of mountainous country, is a huge barrier to the migration of all large wildlife species. I think remediation is in order.

Studying the Wolverine

People are said to be largely unaware of the extent of needed protection for wolverine.  WIth snow-machines able to get higher and further up mountainous areas in the winter the human encroachment is increasing.  Here’s one uplifting story about a team studying wolverines in Montana :

A husband-and-wife team in Montana studies the elusive wolverineChristian Science Monitor

Researchers Using GPS to Track the Elusive Wolverine at Glacier National Park

California wolverine came from the Rocky Mountains

The wolverine was thought to be extinct in California. Then a remote sensing camera photographed one and its scat was collected.

DNA evidence from the scat analysis says it came from the Rocky Mountains. Did it walk to California?

California wolverine came from the Rocky Mountains. By Dylan Darling. Redding.com

Government denies protected status for wolverines in mainland U.S.

Government denies protected status for wolverines in mainland U.S. By John Cramer of the Missoulian.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. . . “Enviros are most worried that the Bushies now appear to be saying they don’t have to protect animals inside U.S. borders if lots of them are living in Canada or Mexico. Defenders of Wildlife called the administration’s move ‘a stunning interpretation of their responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act.’ Defenders’ Jamie Rappaport Clark, who used to run the agency that made the decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had this to say:

This sets a new low in a long line of irresponsible, disturbing decisions made of late by the Bush administration. The Endangered Species Act was designed to protect and preserve imperiled wildlife populations — not so that we can pass our responsibilities off onto our border neighbors, who may not have the resources or protections that we have here.

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This interpretation of the ESA has been firmed rejected in the past (as with gray wolves), but this old rejected argument has become the new Bush Administration party line, guaranteeing that every ESA listing will have to be litigated.

Fortunately these people will be gone in 9 months.