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By Matt Robbins
Special to The SUN
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Aug. 12 that it has withdrawn the proposed rule to list wolverine as threatened in the contiguous United States under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) supports the USFWS for careful scrutiny of the available science on potential impacts of climate change on wolverine status.
CPW believes that state wildlife agencies within the wolverine range have developed conservation programs that are effective in maintaining wolverines within the lower 48 states, as evidenced by expansion in distribution of the species. The USFWS simultaneously withdrew a proposed “nonessential-experimental” population designation for the southern Rockies.
In July 2010, the Wildlife Commission (now the Parks and Wildlife Commission) authorized staff to begin having conversations with conservation partners and stakeholders about the potential reintroduction of wolverines. CPW intends to reconvene the stakeholder group and continue those discussions in light of the recent federal decision not to list the wolverine. Approvals to undertake a reintroduction would be necessary from the Parks and Wildlife Commission and the state Legislature.
Historically, Colorado was home to wolverine, but due to trapping, predator control and other activities, the species was extirpated from the state. Although there are currently no documented wolverines in Colorado, the state has a substantial amount of high-quality habitat, and there continues to be interest in wolverine conservation in Colorado.
Prior to 2009, the last known wild wolverine in Colorado was recorded in 1919. In June 2009, M56, the moniker given to a male wolverine trapped and given an abdominal implant near Grand Teton National Park, was photographed in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). CPW biologists and pilots monitored his whereabouts and determined his locations for the next several years. In addition to being photographed in RMNP, he was photographed near Guanella Pass in April 2012. He was last located in October 2012. It is unknown why efforts to obtain additional locations were unsuccessful — he may have left the state or the battery in the transmitter may have died.
For more news about Colorado Parks and Wildlife, go to cpw.state.co.us.