Wolverines Threatened With Extinction , Receive Federal Protection.
On November 29, the Biden administration released a proposal to give the North American wolverine long-delayed federal protections.
ABC News reports that the proposal comes following warnings by scientists that climate change is likely to destroy the rare species' snowy mountain habitat.
By the early 1900s, wolverines had been mostly wiped out across the U.S. as a result of unregulated hunting and poisoning campaigns.
An estimated 300 surviving wolverines continue to live in the contiguous U.S. in isolated groups at high elevations in the northern Rocky Mountains.
Increasing temperatures are expected to reduce the mountain snowpack, which wolverines rely on to birth and raise their cubs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to protect wolverines comes after over two decades of debate regarding threats to the species' long-term survival.
According to officials, the new protections are , “due primarily to the ongoing and increasing impacts of climate change and associated habitat degradation and fragmentation.”.
ABC reports that wolverines, which resemble small bears, are the world's largest species of terrestrial weasels.
A 2020 lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service claimed that wolverines face extinction due to a combination of climate change, habitat loss and low genetic diversity.
Scientists have suggested that some of the species' losses could be offset if wolverines are allowed to recolonize in areas like California's Sierra Nevada