|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
September 1, 2000
Contacts: Chuck Davis (303) 236-7400 ext 235
Diane Katzenberger (303) 236-7917 ext 408
Fish and Wildlife Service Petitioned to List the Wolverine as Threatened or Endangered
Six environmental groups have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the wolverine as a threatened or endangered species. On August 15 the Service's Regional Director in Denver provided a response letter acknowledging receipt of the petition, but indicated the agency will not be able to begin work on a preliminary finding on the petition until funds and staff become available.
The wolverine petition was filed by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (BLF), the Predator Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, and the Superior Wilderness Action Network. The federal Endangered Species Act provides citizens the opportunity to petition the Service to make administrative findings as to whether a species should be listed. A preliminary finding is to be made in 90 days "to the maximum extent practicable." However, the Service's funding for ESA listing activities is limited by congressional appropriations forcing the agency to assign priorities to its listing workload. Administrative petitions are given a low priority, unless the Service determines that the petition provides justification for emergency action to protect a species.
A similar petition to list the wolverine was filed by BLF in 1994, and in 1995 the Service published a 90-day finding that the petition did not contain substantial information to conclude that a status review of the species was warranted at that time.
The wolverine is the largest land species of the "mustelid" or weasel family, and adults can weigh over 50 pounds. In appearance it has more characteristics of a badger or skunk than a weasel, and feeds primarily by scavenging on carrion. The species is found in boreal (northern) forests that receive winter snow cover. Generally, their range extends from Alaska and Northern Canada south through the Cascades and Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The range in the Great Lakes region and northeastern U.S. is difficult to determine because historic records are sketchy.
The Services Mountains and Prairie Region, headquartered in Denver, has not started work on any new petition findings since August 1998. Other species petitions that have been received by the Region and are waiting for available funds include Yellowstone cutthroat trout, the bison herd in Yellowstone National Park, Colorado River cutthroat trout, and the Gunnison sage grouse.
To view the petition, response letter, and listing priority guidance, visit the Services web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolverine. The web site also has an e-mail link for interested parties to comment on the wolverine petition or provide information about this species (e-mail address: FW6_wolverine@fws.gov).
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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