PORTLAND, Ore., — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing its final rule to list the distinct population segment of the North American wolverine in the contiguous U.S. as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is also issuing an interim rule under ESA section 4(d) tailored to the wolverine’s conservation needs that exempts take related to research activities, take incidental to lawful trapping for other species, and take resulting from forest management activities associated with wildfire risk reduction in the contiguous U.S.
“Current and increasing impacts of and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation are imperiling the North American wolverine,” said Pacific Regional Director Hugh Morrison. “Based on the best available science, this listing determination will help to stem the long-term impact and enhance the viability of wolverines in the contiguous United States.”
In September 2023, the Service updated its 2018 species status assessment for the North American wolverine with an addendum that reflects new information since 2018. The addendum evaluated updated information on climate change, habitat connectivity, trapping, snow, population density, and impacts on genetic diversity, as well as considered changes in regulatory mechanisms and conservation measures. The North American wolverine is a medium-sized carnivore found within the Northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascade Mountains in the contiguous U.S. and alpine regions, boreal forests, and tundra of Alaska and Canada. Wolverines are snow-adapted, cold-climate, territorial animals with large home ranges.
In 2013, the Service proposed to list the North American wolverine in the contiguous U.S. as threatened under the ESA. In 2020, after reevaluating the wolverine’s status, the Service determined listing the wolverine was not warranted. In 2022, the District Court of Montana vacated that decision, requiring the wolverine to be reconsidered for listing under the ESA. The proposed and final rules and the comments received on the proposed rule are available here on the Federal Register, Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2023-0216.
The Service requests comments or information from other concerned federal and state agencies, Tribes, the scientific community, or any interested party concerning the interim 4(d) rule. A 60-day comment period begins Nov. 30, 2023 and comments must be received by Jan. 29, 2024. The proposal and information on how to submit comments can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov by searching Docket No.FWS-R6-ES-2023-0216.
For more information see the FAQ document here: https://www.fws.gov/question-answer/us-fish-and-wildlife-service-announces-final-rule-list-north-american-wolverine