Priority Gulo

Apparently it’s illegal to ‘deface’ mailing labels, since they are property of the federal government. Then again – it’s also kind of illegal to decide that you aren’t going to list a threatened species just because you don’t like environmentalists. That’s what happened, evidently, when the Bush administration handed down a decision in March of 2008 that the wolverine shouldn’t be listed under the Endangered Species Act, despite a volume of peer-reviewed science suggesting that the animal faces significant threats.

In the body of the decision, the science and the threats are acknowledged, but the decision itself ignores its own preceding discussion and states, among other things, that Rocky Mountain wolverines do not comprise a distinct population segment, that they are genetically indistinct from Canadian wolverines, and that we therefore don’t need to worry about protecting them ourselves. The decision is entirely illogical, and, predictably, the environmental advocacy groups sued. Rightly so. I don’t always agree with all of the tactics of groups like Defenders of Wildlife, but in this case they did a good thing. The new decision will come down sometime in 2010. Listing the wolverine should be a priority, and dealing with the big threat – climate change – should also be a priority – not just for the sake of wolverines, but for ours, as well.


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