Wolverine, Kalon Baughan
© Kalon Baughan


Advocating for Federal Protections

For nearly two decades, Defenders of Wildlife has been pushing the federal government to protect wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.

The Problem

Wolverines almost disappeared by the early 1900s after unregulated hunting, trapping, and predator poisoning campaigns. While they are slowly recolonizing their former territory in the west, there are fewer than 300 wolverines in the lower 48 states. Climate change threatens the snow-covered habitat these animals need to thrive and raise their young. Mortality from road strikes and trapping, disruption from winter recreation, and habitat fragmentation reducing connectivity between suitable habitats all provide a challenge to the species’ survival. Wolverines need the attention and resources provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to better ensure a lasting future.

How We’re Helping

Defenders and our colleagues have been fighting for nearly two decades to federally protect wolverines in the lower 48 states, where climate change threatens their future. We filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2000 requesting protection for the species under the ESA, and took legal action in 2005 and 2008 when the agency did not move forward to protect the species. In 2010, the USFWS determined that wolverines did in fact warrant protections under the ESA, but the agency was unable to take further action until higher priorities were addressed. Then in 2011, USFWS agreed in a multi-species legal settlement that wolverines in the contiguous U.S. would be reconsidered for listing. 

In February 2013, the USFWS finally proposed to protect wolverines in the contiguous U.S. as a threatened species under the ESA.

The USFWS will make a final determination whether to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the ESA by early 2014, and Defenders is actively fighting for a listing, recovery plan and decisive action that will help secure the future of the species in the U.S.