Congressman Matt Rosendale (MT-02), along with Senator Steve Daines (MT), and Congressman Ryan Zinke (MT-01), sent a letter on Friday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Montana District Court to delay a final decision by 120 days for the North American Wolverine’s listing in the Federal Registry. This extension is necessary because there is not enough data to warrant a listing at the moment and moving forward with a final ESA determination too hastily is potentially disastrous for Montanans and their way of life.
The letter reads: “Any decision about placing or removing a species on the ESA must be based on updated population data, not potential climate effects on a portion of the habitat.”
Rep. Rosendale continued: “The wolverine is a remarkable resilient animal, and it cannot be listed on the ESA without ample evidence. The Service has not met the criteria to issue a new final determination over the past 18 months—they should either not list the wolverine at all or substantially delay a final determination.”
- In 2020, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessments indicated that the loss of wolverine habitat due to climate change and other factors is less significant than previously suggested in a 2013 USFWS assessment.
- The recent USFWS Species Status Assessment (SSA) forming the basis for the upcoming decision acknowledges, “Specific thresholds regarding snow dynamics and how changes in these factors will impact wolverines in the future at the population level remain uncertain.”
- The same SSA concedes, “We have identified significant uncertainties that hamper our ability to predict the scope, scale, and timing of future demographic outcomes for wolverines in the contiguous U.S.”
- Despite the USFWS publishing a rule on November 23, 2022, requesting data on the historical and current status, range, distribution, and population size of wolverines, including the locations of additional populations, this information was inexplicably omitted from the USFWS proposed rule recommending the wolverine as an endangered species.
- In 2022, U.S. District of Montana Judge David Molloy ordered the agency to issue a new determination. The USFWS asked for 18 months to make a decision, but have not met the necessary criteria for listing a species under the ESA under federal law.
Read Rep. Rosendale, Sen. Daines, and Rep. Zinke’s letter to Director Williams and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service HERE.