Wolverine Status Review Reinitiated

The distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulf luscus) has had a long and difficult history with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  However, things appeared to be changing in 2013, when, after denying a number of prior listing petitions at various stages of the process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the ESA, citing anticipated habitat loss due to climate change.  (See our February 3, 2013 post for a summary of this history.)  While this put the wolverine squarely on the path to ESA listing, approximately 18 months later, the Regional Director for the Service directed federal biologists to withdraw the proposed rule.  (See our July 7, 2014 post and August 12, 2014 post for a further discussion of the Regional Director's justification.)  An environmental group challenged this abrupt change in course, and on April 4, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the Service's withdrawal of the rule, concluding that the decision was not based on the best available science.  (See our April 7, 2016 post for a discussion of the court's decision.)  On October 18, 2016, consistent with the direction from the court, the Service issued a notice that it was reopening the comment period on the February 4, 2013 proposed rule to list the distinct population segment of wolverine occurring in the contiguous United States as threatened.  Thus, after more than three years, the wolverine again appears to be on the path to ESA protection.

  • Benjamin Z. Rubin

    Ben Rubin is chair of Nossaman’s Environment & Land Use Group. Ben assists developers, public agencies, landowners and corporate clients on a variety of complex land use and environmental matters. He counsels clients on matters ...

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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