PROMO Animal - Wolverine - Uusijani - Public Domain

Long-awaited protections for wolverine relief for conservation groups

Uusijani - Public Domain
Eric Tegethoff

Click play to listen to this article.

(Washington News Service) Conservation groups are celebrating a long-fought battle to protect the dwindling population of wolverine in the Northwest and northern Rockies. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced wolverine warrant being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. There are about 300 left across the Northwest and northern Rockies. 

Bethany Cotton - conservation director at Cascadia Wildlands - said the effort to protect wolverine began more than two decades ago.

"It's literally been 20 years of advocacy," said Cotton, "to ensure that these climate-sensitive species receive the protections they need and can get on the road to recovery."

Fish and Wildlife has seesawed on the question of protecting wolverine. Last year, arguing against listing, the state of Idaho said conservation efforts had restored the species to a stable population. 

The listing was published last week and opens up a 60 day public comment period on the interim rule.

Cotton said listing the species as threatened is a great first step but adds that trapping is a major threat to wolverine that could be allowed to continue under this rule.

"It also has language that allows some activities," said Cotton, "and unfortunately, one of the things in that interim rule is allowing for take or harming or killing wolverine in trapping."

Cotton said the science has been clear that wolverine need safeguards.

"Now, we need to make sure that those protections are meaningful," said Cotton, "that they're followed by state and federal entities, that we get a recovery plan and critical habitat, and that we really do protect these really amazing animals."