Decision due by October on study of wolverines


Idaho Statesman

MOSCOW, IDAHO — Federal wildlife officials say they will decide by fall whether to study federal protection for the elusive wolverine.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have to shuffle budget priorities to meet that schedule and settle a lawsuit from environmental groups, agency spokeswoman Diane Katzenberger said.

“Like everybody else, when you get a court order you basically have to follow it,” she said. The agency has been putting off a decision for three years.

The pending settlement with Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow and five other groups requires the agency only to issue a decision on whether to study endangered species protection should be launched for the bear-cub-sized animal. It doesn´t require the agency to reach that conclusion.

Wolverines, which grow to about 25 pounds and more than 3 feet in length, range over Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska, where they depend on wilderness and roadless areas for survival.

“We are lucky to have them here in the Clearwater country,” said Gary Macfarlane of the Friends of the Clearwater. “In fact, this is one of the few areas where they remain, where they have a toehold in the lower 48.

“We think the scientific information is out there to list them as a threatened or endangered species,” he said.

Environmental groups have been pressing for action on the wolverine since 2000. As early as 1994, the Fish and Wildlife Service decided it lacked scientific information to make a determination.

Now it´s studying the wolverine again, promising a decision by October.

The Fish and Wildlife Service blamed budget problems for not dealing with the 2000 request as quickly as the law requires. Katzenberger said the agency has made a priority of managing endangered species already on the list instead of adding to it.

Edition Date: 08-04-2003


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