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US announces new protections for wolverines as threatened species

North American wolverines will be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) amid the threat of climate change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced Wednesday.

The service in a press release said it was designating the North American wolverine in the contiguous United States as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. It announced a final rule Wednesday that marks the change.

The North American wolverine can be found in the Northern Rocky Mountains and the North Cascade Mountains in the western U.S., according to the FWS.

“Current and increasing impacts of climate change and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation are imperiling the North American wolverine,” FWS Pacific Regional Director Hugh Morrison said in a statement in the release. 

“Based on the best available science, this listing determination will help to stem the long-term impact and enhance the viability of wolverines in the contiguous United States,” Morrison continued.

Protecting the North American wolverine as a threatened species has been a debate for some time.

In 2020, the FWS under former President Trump said it had reevaluated the status of the wolverine but decided it did not warrant listing.

However, the District Court of Montana vacated the aforementioned decision, leading to the requirement that the wolverine had “to be reconsidered for listing under the ESA.”

In June, the Biden administration announced two proposed rules that would reverse rollbacks by the Trump administration on the enforcement of the ESA. One of those, the 4(d) rule, gives the same protections to threatened species as endangered species. 

“The Endangered Species Act is the nation’s foremost conservation law that prevents the extinction of species and supports their recovery,” FWS Director Martha Williams said in a statement at the time. “These proposed revisions reaffirm our commitment to conserving America’s wildlife and ensuring the Endangered Species Act works for both species and people.”

Source: The Hill

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