From a Center for Biological Diversity news release.
VICTOR, Idaho— Documents the Center for Biological Diversity obtained through a public-records request prove the snare that killed an adult female wolverine in Idaho’s Beaverhead Mountains last month did not have a stop, a mechanism required under state law that could have prevented the wolverine’s death.
Based on this information, the Center sent a letter today calling on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to prosecute the trapper and limit trapping in crucial wolverine habitat in Idaho.
“The death of this female wolverine was entirely preventable,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a senior attorney at the Center. “Rather than inform the public of this trapping violation, the Department of Fish and Game tried to bury it. Our state wildlife officials have to enforce their own trapping regulations and stop the needless killings of rare animals.”
Wolverines have been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Adapted to live in high-altitude ecosystems with deep snow, they once roamed through most of the northern United States, from Washington and California east to Maine, and in the West as far south as Arizona and New Mexico.
Threatened by climate change, trapping and habitat loss and fragmentation, wolverines are now constrained to a small portion of their once-expansive range. They exist only in the northern Rocky Mountain regions of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as the Cascade Mountains in Washington and a small portion of eastern Oregon. Scientists believe fewer than 300 individuals remain.
The Fourth of July Creek drainage in the Beaverhead Mountains, where this wolverine was killed, is considered prime wolverine habitat. Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game has confirmed wolverine use of the area during the past eight years; the area is an important travel corridor for wolverines, and the agency has even documented a wolverine maternal den in the area.
“The death of even one wolverine is significant when dealing with such a small population,” said Santarsiere. “Idaho should not permit the use of deadly traps in known wolverine habitat. We’re asking the agency to reconsider this practice.”
On Feb. 4, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to list the wolverine in the contiguous United States as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. However, in an unexpected reversal, the Service suddenly withdrew the proposed rule in August 2014, determining that listing under the Endangered Species Act was not warranted. The Center and allies challenged the withdrawal in court, and on May 14, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the withdrawal, sending the Fish and Wildlife Service back to the drawing board to reconsider the fate of this rare carnivore.
“We will do everything necessary to ensure federal and state agencies take actions necessary to protect the wolverine,” added Santarsiere.