In December 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that ESA protections are “warranted” for wolverines in the lower-48 states due to their low numbers and threats posed to their snowy habitat by climate change, but that listing them is “precluded” by other priorities. This decision—the result of a legal victory by Defenders and our co-plaintiffs represented by Earthjustice— is one of the first, after polar bears, that has deemed a species eligible for ESA protections primarily due to climate change.
Then in July 2011, we received welcome news that wolverines will be reconsidered for listing under the ESA in 2013. The 2013 deadline puts wolverines near the top of the list of more than 250 other candidate species that the Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to consider for listing during the next five years. We are optimistic that the new determination will be positive and generate much-needed resources for this rare scavenger.
On the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List, the wolverine is currently listed as a species of least concern. The justification for this category relies on the wolverine’s wide distribution across the world, and thus does not focused only on the Lower 48 population.