Big Sky Connection - Wolverines, numbering fewer than 300 in the continental United States, have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Wildlife advocates say the listing has been a decades-long effort. Comments from Tim Preso (PRESS-oh), managing attorney of the biodiversity defense program at EarthJustice.
Click on the image above for the audio. Wolverines are powerfully built and have short legs with wide feet for traveling across the snow. They are a vital part of ecosystems in northern climes, according to Defenders of Wildlife. (Adobe Stock)
December 6, 2023 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has added the wolverine to the list of endangered species. Advocates said it will add critical protections for the threatened animal.
The Endangered Species Act listing makes killing or harassing the wolverine illegal. Fish and Wildlife will write a wolverine recovery plan, identify critical habitats needing protection and reintroduce the animal in certain places.
Tim Preso, managing attorney of the biodiversity defense program at EarthJustice, said these are critical steps in keeping wolverines alive for future generations.
"It's not just an old museum specimen somewhere," Preso pointed out. "It's a living, breathing part of our world and that's reason for hope."
Preso noted most importantly, the listing bans commercial trapping of the wolverine which, until now, had been completely unregulated in Montana, leading to their near complete disappearance in the Pioneer mountains.
Because there were no federal or state regulations on trapping prior to the threatened species designation, Preso explained anyone who wanted to trap a wolverine could do so.
"The only limit on the amount of wolverines that were being killed in Montana under that approach was the number of trappers and the number of wolverines," Preso noted. "We were seeing annually a lot of deaths of individuals that were just really hard to understand in a world in which we had fewer than 300 in all the lower 48."
The threatened species designation does not punish hunters if they trap a wolverine inadvertently, but does require them to make their traps as safe as possible to avoid trapping a wolverine while hunting other animals.