The Missoulan devoted an article to the wolverine and its place among the candidate species up for consideration for listing under a new agreement between environmental groups and the federal government. The reporter covers both the process by which the decisions are made, and the specific challenges of protecting wolverines, highlighting the difficulty of designing studies to assess the effects of winter recreation on gulos, the even bigger difficulty of funding such studies, and the potential influence of an ‘endangered’ decision on Colorado’s reintroduction plans.
I am, literally, on my way out the door to the airport, where I will catch a plane to Khovd, in western Mongolia. From there, I’ll travel south to the fringes of the Gobi Desert, to a national park called Myangan Ugalzaat (which translates as ’1000 Argali Rams’) where a wolverine with two kits was camera-trapped by a London Zoological Society wildlife project last year. So I don’t have time to do a full analysis or commentary on the article mentioned above. Nor have I had time, in my three days back in Ulaanbaatar, to summarize what I learned during two weeks in northern Mongolia with the Tsataan/Dukha reindeer herders. Check back in about a week for some details on both these trips, and further thoughts about the ESA process and the reintroduction plans.
As a final thought, I am a big fan of This American Life, and was catching up on missed episodes over the past couple of days. I was struck by a recent story on the conflict surrounding fracking, the controversial technique by which natural gas is extracted from shale. Fracking is an environmental issue worth attention in its own right, but as the story unfolded, it also neatly encapsulated many of the broader conflicts among science, advocacy, and vested financial interests. Substitute some slightly different details, and you have a picture of all the big issues in wildlife management and conservation as well. It’s worth a listen.