Wednesday, April 06, 2016

'Immense Political Pressure' Sank Wolverine Listing -- Judge

American wolverine - A federal court ruled Monday that FWS violated the Endangered Species Act when it declined to protect the wolverine. (Image Credit: Wikipedia) Click to Enlarge.
The Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act when it declined to protect the American wolverine and dismissed the threat of climate change amid political pressure, a federal court ruled Monday.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ordered FWS to reconsider whether to list the wolverine as a threatened species.  The agency withdrew a proposed rule to list the species in 2014, going against the advice of its own biologists and sparking outrage among environmental groups.

The species -- which numbers about 300 in the United States -- reproduces only in the deep snow, which climate models show will sharply decline over the next century.  In his 85-page order, Judge Dana Christensen wrote that the wolverine's sensitivity to climate change "cannot really be questioned."

"It is the undersigned's view that if there is one thing required of the Service under the ESA, it is to take action at the earliest possible, defensible point in time to protect against the loss of biodiversity within our reach as a nation," Christensen wrote.  "For the wolverine, that time is now."

Barring an appeal, the order means FWS must restore its proposal rule and make a new final listing decision for wolverines.

FWS spokesman Gavin Shire said the agency is "looking at the judge's decision and determining how best to proceed."

More than 20 conservation and wildlife groups had filed three lawsuits against FWS's withdrawal -- and yesterday, many of them released ecstatic press releases on the court's findings.

"Today's win is a victory not just for wolverine but for all species whose fate relies on the scientific integrity of the Fish and Wildlife Service," Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, said in a statement.  "We call on the agency to stop playing politics and start living up to its mandate to protect our country's most imperiled species."

Michael Senatore, vice president of conservation law for Defenders of Wildlife, said the court's decision "reaffirms that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignored the best available science by denying them federal protections in 2014."

"We urge the Service to heed today's ruling and move forward with a rule to list the species under the Endangered Species Act now," he said.

Read more at 'Immense Political Pressure' Sank Wolverine Listing -- Judge

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