Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) State wildlife officials from the West will ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend a decision on listing wolverines as threatened on the Endangered Species List for 90 days after the group decided the science used to propose the species was faulty during a meeting earlier this month in Salt Lake City.
Utah wolverine visit cited in move from endangered listing

Memo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife cites confirmed sighting of animal in Utah.

First Published Jul 07 2014 03:57 pm • Last Updated Jul 07 2014 10:35 pm

Citing the recent confirmed sighting of a wolverine in Utah to support her decision, a federal wildlife official has told staff to work on withdrawing a proposal to protect the animal under the Endangered Species Act.

Noreen Walsh, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region, said the impact of climate change on the wolverine is unclear in a memo acquired by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

A wolverine’s visit to Utah’s Uinta Mountains last winter indicates the rare species is seeking to expand its range, one reason it should not be considered for listing under the act, she wrote in the memo, stamped May 30, 2014. It was addressed to an assistant regional director.

The center said in a statement Monday that the memo "tells federal scientists to set aside" conclusions on global warming and the impacts it may have on the ability for wolverines to den. The proposed listing is based in part on modeling that shows wolverines rely on snow-covered terrain for 5 ½ months during their denning season, between January and May 15.

"The Obama administration’s own scientists have said for years that global warming is pushing wolverines toward extinction and now those conclusions are being cast aside for political convenience," Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the center, said in a release.

"This is a bizarre and disturbing turn, especially for an administration that’s vowed to let science rule the day when it comes to decisions about the survival of our most endangered wildlife," Greenwald said.

The deadline for a final rule or withdrawal of the wolverine proposal is Aug. 4, but it could be announced at any time. The Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately comment on the memo.

Before photographs of a wolverine — the first confirmed Utah sighting in 35 years — were recorded in February on the north slope of the Uintas, Utah biologists were already expressing reluctance for a possible endangered species listing.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) biologists joined officials from other states in asking for a 90-day extension on comments on the proposal in November 2013.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies crafted a response during a meeting in Salt Lake City.

story continues below
story continues below

Discussions centered on the states "feeling that climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act," Bill Bates, wildlife section chief for the DWR, told The Salt Lake Tribune at the time. "We feel the population is at a historic high level from the time of European settlement, and we can wait and see what happens with climate change in the next 20 to 30 years."

There have been other Utah sightings reported, in 2003 near Morgan and in the Bear River range in 2005. "We definitely see transient males just passing through," Bates said.

In her memo, Walsh acknowledged the association’s opposition to listing wolverines. She also appeared to distance herself from the states.

"I emphasize that while state agencies are our primary partners in conservation, the determination I have come to as stated in this memo about the wolverine’s status under the Endangered Species Act is mine alone, and has not been influenced in any way by a state representative," she wrote.


Twitter: @BrettPrettyman

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.