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A federal court has restored threatened species protections for wolverines

Wolverine in the forest
AB Photography/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Wolverine in the forest

A federal court has restored protections for wolverines under the Endangered Species Act.

Since 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has gone back and forth on whether wolverines, the largest member of the weasel family, are threatened by dwindling snowpack driven by climate change. The Center for Biological Diversity says there are estimated to be as few as 300 in the lower 48.

The species was considered a candidate for being listed as a threatened species two separate times. That afforded the wolverine protections under the Endangered Species Act, but the FWS withdrew that consideration in 2020.

Conservation groups sued, arguing that federal wildlife managers’ decision didn’t consider all available science. Montana U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy agreed with that assessment and restored the wolverine’s candidacy for being listed as a threatened species.

The FWS now has a little under two years to reassess whether the wolverine should receive permanent protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.