Published on February 3rd, 2013 | by James Ayre

Wolverines Now Listed As Threatened On The Endangered Species List

Wolverines were put on the endangered species list, as a threatened species, by the U.S. government on Friday. According to recent research, wolverines have been doing poorly as the climate has warmed, and reduced the snow fall that they are dependent upon.


There are fewer than 300 wolverines left in the lower 48 states of the United States. They only live, in significant numbers, in the high country of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington state currently.

Wolverines are the biggest terrestrial species of the family Mustelidae (weasels). They are very stocky and muscular carnivores, looking almost like a small bear in some ways. They have a reputation as being fierce, aggressive, and incredibly strong for their weight. They are known to kill animals much larger than themselves. There have even been reports of wolverines taking down bull moose.

They are found mostly in “remote reaches of the Northern boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra of the Northern Hemisphere, with the greatest numbers in northern Canada, the U.S. state of Alaska, the Nordic countries of Europe, and throughout western Russia and Siberia. Their populations have experienced a steady decline since the 19th century in the face of trapping, range reduction, deforestation, and habitat fragmentation, such that they are essentially absent in the southern end of their European range. Large populations are thought to remain in North America and northern Asia. Wolverines are solitary animals.”

While they are fierce carnivores, they actually will eat almost anything, much like a bear. Birds, berries, lynx, wolf and coyote pups, eggs, roots, seeds, are all on the menu. They are known to be able to defend a kill from a packs of wolves, and even bears in some cases. Though, alternately, some groups of wolves have been observed specifically going out of their way to hunt and kill wolverines.

“They build their dens, reproduce and store food in areas with snow deeper than five feet in high-elevation environments unoccupied by humans and undisturbed by snowmobilers and skiers.”


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also announced that they will be accepting public comment on the new listing until May 6th, for those that may object to its new categorization.

As part of the listing, conservationists are looking to get wolverine populations reestablished in the Southern Rockies, including Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. They were once endemic to those regions.

Their new status as being a ‘threatened’ species will of course make the intentional killing of them illegal. Their fur is highly valued by trappers.

As climate change continues intensifying, the animals are expected to do poorly. “Rising temperatures and declining snowpack in the mountains are likely to reduce suitable wolverine habitat in the lower 48 states by 63 percent by the end of this century, according to predictions by government scientists.”

“Viable populations of wolverines once roamed expansive tracts of the northern Cascades, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada before widespread trapping and poisoning severely diminished their numbers and range.”

“Wolverines may cover more than a dozen miles a day across rugged terrain in search of food, believed to be the primary factor driving the animals’ movements and explaining the vastness of their home ranges, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.”


“Successful males will form lifetime relationships with two or three females, which they will visit occasionally, while other males are left without a mate. Mating season is in the summer, but the actual implantation of the embryo (blastocyst) in the uterus is stayed until early winter, delaying the development of the fetus. Females will often not produce young if food is scarce. The wolverine gestation period is 30–50 days. Litters of typically two or three young (‘kits’) are born in the spring. Kits develop rapidly, reaching adult size within the first year of a lifespan that may reach anywhere from five to (in exceptional individuals) 13 years. Fathers make visits to their offspring until they are weaned at 10 weeks of age; also, once the young are about six months old, some reconnect with their fathers and travel together for a time.”

Source: Reuters and Wikipedia

Image Credits: Gulo Gulo, Wolverine, and Pendant 12 500 years old via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • ThisIsLi

    Wolverines seem to be a much maligned species, and they deserve protection. They are not a danger to anybody, and prefer to be far away from men. And they are actually remarkably beautiful creatures: watch this documentary, and you’ll be amazed by their athletic skills and and raw determination. It’s too bad their fur is a marvel of nature, as it may result in their eventual demise.

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  • jack

    prettygoodbrohbu smexyman

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    hi bro
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  • gpmp

    Where do the weirdos come from that post stupid sh** like these comments? Why do they even bother to come to a blog like this?

  • Yeah put them on endangered list now so some stupid congressman can come later and de list them and make hunting them legal. Why waste money?

  • Don’t know why. They’re not in the same division as Ohio State anymore. =P
    Ohhh, THOSE wolverines…

  • The MET Office confirms there has been no significant warming for 16 years. Phil Jones admitted a couple of years ago that there has been no significant warming in a decade. James Hansen just admitted no significant warming in the last 10 years. With 2/3 of our CO2 emissions coming in the last 35 years but no significant warming in the last 16, it’s increasingly clear to us flat-earthers that our CO2 emissions are not the primary driver of climate or even particularly significant. Habitat destruction has been, continues to be and will always be the greatest threat to our environment.

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