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Protecting Wolverines in the Lower-48

Case Number # 1793

The wolverine, the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family, is among the rarest mammals in the lower-48 states and faces severe threats from habitat fragmentation and disturbance, trapping, and global warming.

Wolverine (Andrew Gainer / Flickr)
Fewer than 300 wolverines exist in the lower-48, and the breeding portion of this population numbers just 35 individuals. (Andrew Gainer / Flickr)

Nevertheless, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in March 2008 rejected a petition to protect the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act. In so doing, the FWS cited the presence of wolverines in Canada and Alaska as a justification for refusing to protect the last remaining wolverines in the lower-48 states. This approach by FWS represented a stark departure from past Endangered Species Act listings of such species as the grizzly bear, the wolf, and the bald eagle in the lower-48 states despite the persistence of these species in Canada and Alaska.

Earthjustice, representing nine conservation groups, sued FWS in September 2008 to ensure that the wolverine is protected in the lower-48 states as Congress intended.

Press Releases

Friday, February 1, 2013
“Threatened” listing would help protect species and promote recovery
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees to make listing decision by 2013
Monday, December 13, 2010
Threats found to be of "high magnitude," yet species still awaits ESA listing
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Conservation groups act to save imperiled species
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Lawsuit Aims to Spur Federal Action to Conserve Rare Wilderness Species
Friday, August 1, 2003
Protection for vanishing old growth carnivore will be considered by government