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E-M:/ ESA Protections Sought For The Wild Wolverine

Enviro-Mich message from Murphwild1@aol.com

SWAN is one of the six groups petitioning the Fish & Wildlife Service to
list the Wolverine. Thanks to Jasper Carlton for leading this effort.

Ray Fenner

For immediate release:  Tuesday July 11, 2000

Contacts:   Dave Gaillard, Predator Conservation Alliance,  406-587-3389
        Jasper Carlton, Biodiversity Legal Foundation,  303-926-7606
        Mike Senatore, Defenders of Wildlife,  202-682-9400, ext. 123

    ESA Protections Sought For The Wild Wolverine

Six conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today
to protect the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act.  The groups, led
by Biodiversity Legal Foundation of Boulder, Colorado and Predator
Conservation Alliance of Bozeman, Montana, claim that wolverines have been
reduced to perhaps 800 animals, due to escalating human activity and
destruction of their remote wildlands habitat.

The wolverine needs remote, wild country free from disturbances created by
people.  "There is a remarkable correlation between areas without roads and
areas where the wolverine still survives," said David Gaillard of Predator
Conservation Alliance.  "Our analysis indicates that virtually every area
of national forest lands in the northern Rockies with current wolverine
observations lies in or immediately adjacent to a roadless or Wilderness
area," he added.

The decline and increasing isolation of undeveloped, roadless habitat,
disturbance due to snowmobiles and other motorized recreation, and trapping
that remains legal in Montana are additional factors supporting the need
for federal protections for the species.

"Wolverine habitat in the lower 48 is rapidly shrinking under the assault
of development, roadbuilding, extractive industries, and escalating
motorized backcountry recreation," said Jasper Carlton, Executive Director
of Biodiversity Legal Foundation. "The wolverine won't survive with such
seriously reduced numbers and no place to go.  The Endangered Species Act
may be the only way to prevent extinction of wolverines in the lower 48

"The plight of the wolverine echoes the need to act right away to protect
our public lands for a whole community of imperiled forest-dependent
species, including the wolf, grizzly bear, and the lynx," said Mike
Senatore, staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife.

According to its regulations, the petition process gives the Fish and
Wildlife Service 90 days to issue a finding on whether to move ahead with a
12-month status review, to determine whether the wolverine should be listed
as an endangered or threatened species.

The petitioners include:  Biodiversity Legal Foundation (Boulder,
Colorado);  Defenders of Wildlife (Washington, DC);  Friends of the
Clearwater (Moscow, ID);  Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (Bellingham, WA);
Predator Conservation Alliance (Bozeman, MT);  and Superior Wilderness
Action Network (St. Paul, MN).


Background information on the Wolverine
(Gulo gulo)

Some describe it as a small bear, to others it resembles a large skunk, but
the wolverine is truly unique in North America and worldwide.  The largest
member of the weasel family, it is a rare species typically found in the
most remote and rugged country.  The wolverine's strength and toughness is
legendary, but it is no match for the steady invasion of people and their
machines into its remaining wildland habitat.  Specific threats include new
roads, off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and helicopter skiing operations,
for example.

The exact conservation status of the wolverine is unknown, but we do know
that it historically ranged throughout Canada and Alaska, and south into
California's Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, and in the
Lake States and Northeast U.S.  Today, the wolverine's last remaining
stronghold in the lower-48 states has been reduced to western Montana and
parts of Idaho, though scattered sightings are still reported in other
areas of the Northwest, Sierra, Rocky Mountains, and Lake States.

Estimated wolverine numbers and distribution in the lower-48 states
(also see attached map)
… perhaps 400 in this last remaining "stronghold" for wolverines,
distributed throughout mountain ranges across the western part of the
state.  An average of twelve wolverines are still legally trapped each year
in Montana.

… perhaps 200, based on research and sightings concentrated in
south-central, north-central, and northern parts of the state.

… perhaps 100 across this huge area, based on a scarcity of recent
sightings in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon, and throughout the
Sierra Range in California.

… perhaps 50, based on sightings in Yellowstone National Park and within
adjacent national forests.

… unknown, last confirmed observation in 1979, though there have been more
recent (1990's) reliable sightings in northeastern Utah.

Lake States:
… Michigan's state animal is now believed to be extirpated from that state,
and though there have been frequent sightings in Minnesota, none have been

… no confirmed sightings in recent years.

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