Court agrees with SCB that decision to not list wolverine was poorly grounded in science

The wolverine is the largest terrestrial member of the mustelid family. The species is primarily found in boreal regions, but was formerly found throughout montane areas of the western United States. Today, the wolverine population in the lower 48 states numbers only a few hundred individuals. This decline has prompted efforts over two decades to list the species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The wolverine is threatened by loss of snow covered habitat that is used for denning and caching of prey.  The wolverine may serve as an umbrella species for a much larger group of taxa that share the wolverine’s habitat and are also threatened by the effect of climate change on snow cover.

US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) staff scientists and two independent scientific peer reviews have concluded that these threats qualify the species for listing as threatened. However, in August 2014, FWS leadership overruled these conclusions and withdrew its draft proposal to list the wolverine as threatened. SCB’s North America section (SCBNA) and the American Society of Mammalogist (ASM) submitted comments at that time stating that the decision was flawed and did not accurately represent what was known about threats to the species.

Today, the Montana District Court agreed with objections to the FWS decision, and vacated the decision to not list the wolverine (decision here). As the court concluded:

“No greater level of certainty is needed to see the writing on the wall for this snow-dependent species standing squarely in the path of global climate change. It has taken us twenty years to get to this point. It is the undersigned’s view that if there is one thing required of the Service under the ESA, it is to take action at the earliest possible, defensible point in time to protect against the loss of biodiversity within our reach as a nation. For the wolverine, that time is now.”

The Society for Conservation Biology is global community of conservation professionals dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity.

Source: Society for Conservation Biology | Court agrees with SCB that decision to not list wolverine was poorly grounded in science