6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Groups Sue Feds Over Failure to Protect Wolverines

Support Provided By
wolverine-10-13-14-thumb-600x401-82211
Wolverine | Photo: Josh More/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Eight conservation groups today filed suit in Federal court to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its recent decision not to list the American wolverine as a Threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The wolverine (Gulo gulo), a rare and fierce predator in the weasel family faces an uncertain future as a warming planet reduces the deep mountain snowpacks the animal requires to dig its breeding dens. USFWS scientists studying the wolverine's prospects for survival unanimously agreed the carnivore merited protection as a Threatened species. The agency itself proposed listing the wolverine in February 2013.

But in May of this year, USFWS Regional Director Noreen Walsh quietly ordered her staff to drop work on listing the wolverine, citing "uncertainty" in climate change modeling. USFWS Director Dan Ashe made that order official in August with a formal withdrawal of the listing proposal. This week's lawsuit seeks to rescind that order and restart the listing process.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Montana, charges that USFWS violated the Endangered Species Act by disregarding the best available science on the wolverine, and asks the court to set aside the decision to drop the listing process.

If the wolverine is listed, protection would apply to the population in the lower 48 states, including a small confirmed population in California's Sierra Nevada.

"The wolverine is a famously tough creature that doesn't back down from anything, but even the wolverine can't overcome a changing climate by itself," said Earthjustice attorney Adrienne Maxwell. "To survive, the wolverine needs the protections that only the Endangered Species Act can provide."

Earthjustice is representing eight conservation groups bringing the lawsuit against USFWS and the Department of the Interior. The plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Friends of the Clearwater, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Idaho Conservation League, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, and Rocky Mountain Wild.

The fewer than 300 wolverines remaining in the lower 48 states rely on deep, persistent snowpack lasting until at least May for the females to hollow out dens. Though Walsh's May memo correctly pointed out that current climate models don't allow precise predictions of future snowpack at individual denning locations, scientists are unanimous in agreeing that a warming climate means fewer areas of persistent snow overall.

That not only limits breeding habitat available to wolverines, but it raises the risk of fragmentation of the wolverine gene pool as populations that were once connected by swaths of suitable winter breeding habitat find themselves isolated.

"The best available science shows climate change will significantly reduce available wolverine habitat over the next century, and imperil the species," said Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance's Siva Sundaresan. "As an agency responsible for protecting our wildlife, FWS should not ignore science and should make their decisions based on facts and data."

Support Provided By
Read More
Students at Manchester Ave. Elementary School have virtual meet and greet with teacher

State Deal Encourages School Reopening by April; but Local Resistance Looms

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced a multibillion-dollar deal today aimed at enticing schools to resume in-person instruction for young students by April 1, but it's unlikely L.A. Unified will meet that date.
(LEFT) ER nurse Adwoa Blankson-Wood pictured near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, wearing scrubs and a surgical mask; By October, Blankson-Wood was required to don an N-95 mask, protective goggles, a head covering and full PPE to interact with patients.

As A Black Nurse at The Pandemic's Frontlines, I've Had A Close Look at America's Racial Divisions

Most of the time, I was able to frame conversations within the context of the virus and not race, telling patients that we were doing our best, trying to be the heroes they kept calling us. But I was dying inside .... It was easier to find solace in my job, easier to be just a nurse, than to be a Black nurse.
The City of L.A. is staging a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic in Chinatown for senior citizens, in an attempt to improve access to the vaccine among vulnerable populations.

Long-Awaited COVID-19 Vaccine Access Expanding in L.A. County Monday

Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 vaccination effort will expand vastly Monday, but health officials said today those workers will have to be patient as vaccine supplies remain limited and staff are trained to ensure only eligible people receive shots.