Montana Judge Upholds Wolverine Listing Lawsuit

Very briefly, here’s something for people following wolverine news in minute detail. Apparently a group of environmental organizations sued the US Fish and Wildlife Service, asserting that the warranted-but-precluded decision of 2010 was incorrect because it evaluated Montana’s trapping season as only a secondary threat to the wolverine population in the Lower 48 (climate change being the primary threat.) The USFWS responded by urging dismissal of the lawsuit since they are already on track to issue a final decision on the wolverine’s status by sometime in 2013, possibly as early as January. A judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit yesterday, but ruled that the lawsuit will be considered moot if the USFWS issues a decision by January 18th, 2013. The judge also ordered that the USFWS must tell the court whether it will issue a January decision on or before December 14th – the day before Montana’s trapping season begins.

It’s exciting to have a potential date on which the decision will be issued, and I look forward to hearing whether this is a definite deadline. The actual media article – widely published in news outlets throughout the west – is pretty short, so we’ll have to wait for more information. There’s are a few more details at Ralph Maughn’s Wildlife News blog. Maughn’s post discusses some of the reasoning behind this lawsuit and the timing – mainly having to do with the implications of both the wolverine trapping season, and possible accidental deaths as wolf trapping is opened statewide. I don’t have time or inclination for further commentary on trapping, advocacy, strategy, and lawsuits, so I’ll leave you all to your own opinions. I will say, though, that I was recently face-to-face with a wolf trap out in the Mongolian countryside, and the park ranger with whom I was talking at the time said that wolverines are caught, with some regularity, in wolf traps here. I’ve heard the same story again and again from herders for the past three years. So while I’m not sure that constant lawsuits are the best way to go, there may be some cause to worry about wolverines getting into wolf traps. Of course, that assumes that wolverines and wolves are using habitat the same way in Mongolia and in the US, which doesn’t seem to be the case. I hope wolverines stay well out of the way as wolf trapping goes forward in the States.

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