The Wolverine Receives Much-Needed Endangered Species Act Protections Following Decades Of Litigation

UPDATE – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it will protect the wolverine population in the lower 48 states as threatened under the Endangered Species Act — a decision that will provide this rare wild species with new legal protections and programs for recovery.

This news follows last week’s report of an $11,000 reward that is currently being offered for information leading to a successful prosecution in the illegal killing of a wolverine in southwest Montana. The wolverine was horrifically shot dead and skinned along a closed U.S. Forest Service road in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Its remains were discovered on November 10th.

Conservation groups originally petitioned to list the wolverine as threatened in 1994 and again in 2000. For decades, the service repeatedly delayed and obstructed the proposed wolverine listing, forcing wolverine advocates to turn to the courts for enforcement of the act. Earthjustice and the groups it represents won every case they filed on behalf of the wolverine, either through judicial rulings in their favor or through favorable settlement agreements.

This week’s decision provides the wolverine and its remaining habitat with additional protections to ensure its best chance for survival. The wolverine, the largest terrestrial member of the weasel family, is threatened with massive habitat loss due to climate change. Wolverines depend on areas with deep snow through late spring. Pregnant females dig their dens into this snowpack to birth and raise their young. Scientists estimate that no more than 300 wolverines remain in the lower 48 states.


NOVEMBER 21st. – An $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a successful prosecution in the illegal killing of a wolverine in southwest Montana.

“The senseless killing of one of these incredible, rare mammals, is heartbreaking and cowardly,” said Kristine Akland, Northern Rockies director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope this cash reward encourages someone to step forward with information to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

The wolverine was horrifically shot dead and skinned along a closed U.S. Forest Service road in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Its remains were discovered on November 10th.

Wolverines are fierce, independent animals. They face significant threats from fossil fuel-driven climate change, which is diminishing the mountain snowpack they rely on for denning and raising their young.

Last year, the Center secured a legal victory for wolverines when a Montana District Court determined that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to refuse to list the species under the Endangered Species Act violated federal law. The agency is expected to issue a new listing decision by the end of November 2023.

Killing wolverines is prohibited under both federal and state law and can result in criminal and civil penalties.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is offering a $1,000 reward for information on the killing. Trap Free Montana announced a $5,000 reward, and the Center is boosting the amount by an additional $5,000.

Anyone with information about the wolverine killing should contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at 1-800-TIP-MONT or HERE! 

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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