Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is gearing up for legal action against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in response to the recent listing of wolverines as a threatened species. The state agency emphasizes the thriving wolverine population in Montana and questions the necessity of federal protections that may hinder conservation efforts.

Wolverine Population Flourishing in Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Chief of Conservation Policy, Quentin Kujala, asserts that wolverines in Montana are thriving and occupying a significant portion of their available habitat. The state collaborates closely with neighboring states to ensure effective conservation, and Kujala argues that federal protections could impede the ongoing successful conservation work.

FWS Shifts Approach: Lower 48 as a Distinct Population Segment

The FWS, in its listing notice, departed from its earlier stance by designating the lower 48 states as a distinct population segment. This shift is noteworthy, considering the previous acknowledgment of the interconnectedness between the wolverine populations in the lower 48 and Canada. Montana had implemented protections to support wolverine conservation, but the FWS's new approach challenges these efforts.

Questionable Rationale: Climate Models from 2100

The FWS's listing rationale includes the use of climate models projecting a decrease in snowpack by the year 2100. This decision overlooks recent scientific evidence demonstrating the adaptability of wolverines, as they are capable of denning and reproducing without relying solely on snow.

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Wolverine Conservation in the Northern Rockies

Highlighting success in wolverine conservation efforts in the Northern Rockies, FWP Director Dustin Temple emphasizes the collaboration among states in monitoring and conservation initiatives. He argues that the FWS listing is not only unwarranted but also disregards the existing body of scientific knowledge.

Legal Action Initiated: Notice of Intent to Sue

The FWS listed wolverines as a threatened species in November, prompting Montana to take the first step in challenging the decision. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks plans to file a Notice of Intent to Sue with the FWS, marking the initial move before pursuing a lawsuit in federal district court. As the legal battle unfolds, Montana remains steadfast in its commitment to protect and conserve its wolverine population.

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