U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Requests Withdrawal of Proposed Rule to List the Wolverine as Threatened
A Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has directed federal biologists to withdraw their proposed rule to list the wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. As we reported here, the Service proposed listing the wolverine in February 2013, citing habitat loss due to climate change as the primary threat to the species. Officials in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana objected to the proposed listing, arguing climate change conclusions are premature. In response to these objections, the Service asked a panel of nine biologists to review the scientific information supporting the proposed listing. In April 2014, the scientists issued a report that concluded wolverines would continue to expand their range in the short term, but climate change would significantly affect their habitat by the end of the century. Based on this report, Terry Rabot, the Assistant Regional Director for the Service’s Pacific Region, recommended that the Service move ahead with the threatened designation. However, in a memorandum dated May 30, 2014, Noreen Walsh, the director of the Service’s Rocky Mountain Region, ordered the recommendation to be reversed. The memorandum, obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity, cites “concern about the degree to which we can reliably predict impacts to wolverine populations from climate change” and directs the Service to “prepare a withdrawal of the proposed rule.” The Director of the Service is expected to make a final decision regarding the proposed rule in early August.