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Conservationists Sue Feds For Withholding Protection For Wolverines

Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences. (USFS)

Conservation groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to withhold Endangered Species Act protection from wolverines in the lower 48 states. That’s where no more than 300 of the animals are thought to remain. 

The law firm Earthjustice represents over a dozen groups that assert wolverines face localized extinction as a result of climate change, habitat fragmentation and low genetic diversity. 

"We’re continuing to try and give the wolverine a fighting chance in asking that the Fish and Wildlife Service is held to the standards of the Endangered Species Act when it’s affecting what the risk and threat to the wolverine species is," Earthjustice Attorney Amanda Galvan says.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the number of wolverines is expanding, not contracting. Agency scientists predict enough snow will persist at high elevations for wolverines to den in mountain snowfields each spring despite warming temperatures.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Missoula District Court contends climate change is diminishing the mountain snowpack wolverines need for their primary habitat. 

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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