The Next Threatened Species

Climate change could wipe out wolverines in the lower U.S.
Staff Writer

With the decrease of its alpine habitat due to climate change, the wolverine may soon become the United States’ next threatened species.

Wolverines are the largest land-dwelling species in the weasel family. They live in the high mountains near the tree line where conditions are cold year-round and snow stays on the ground into the month of May. Only 250-300 wolverines are estimated to live in the lower 48, with the largest concentration of the animals found in Montana.

The population nearly went extinct in the 19th century due to trapping, poisoning, range reduction and habitat fragmentation. Wolverines require a large home range, with males often roaming up to 240 square miles.

Now, climate change threatens to wipe out the dwindling species.

On Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that wolverines be listed as a threatened species and protected under the Endangered Species Act. Based on climate modeling, the agency predicts that the wolverine population may be impacted by the loss of its snowpack habitat.

To learn more about the proposal, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website. 

Via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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